The urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) system is a dynamic complex in which the membrane receptor uPAR binds uPA that binds the plasminogen activator inhibitor (PAI)-1 localized in the extracellular matrix, resulting in endocytosis of the whole complex by the low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein (LRP). High expression of PAI-1 is paradoxically associated with marked tumor spreading and poor prognosis. We previously reported a nonproteolytic role of the [uPAR:uPA:PAI-1:LRP] complex operative in cell migration. Here we explored whether matrix PAI-1 could be used as a migration support by human breast cancer cells. We showed that the uPA system and LRP are localized at filopodia of invasive cells, and that formation/internalization of the [uPAR:uPA:PAI-1:LRP] complex is required for attachment and migration of cancer cells on plastic and on a PAI-1 coat. PAI-1 increased both filopodia formation and migration of cancer cells suggesting a chemokine-like activity. Migration velocity, expression of the uPA system, use of the [uPAR:uPA:PAI-1:LRP] complex to migrate, and promigratory effects of PAI-1 paralleled cancer cell invasiveness. Phenotyping and functional analysis of invasive cancer cell subclones indicated that different cell subpopulations may use different strategies to migrate depending on both the environment and their expression of the uPA system, some of them taking advantage of abundant available PAI-1.
Chazaud, B., Ricoux, R., Christov, C., Plonquet, A., Gherardi, R. K., & Barlovatz-Meimon, G. (2002). Promigratory effect of plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 on invasive breast cancer cell populations. American Journal of Pathology, 160(1), 237–246. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0002-9440(10)64367-2