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The plasminogen activator system: biology and regulation

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The regulation of plasminogen activation involves genes for two plasminogen activators (tissue type and urokinase type), two specific inhibitors (type 1 and type 2), and a membrane-anchored urokinase-type plasminogen-activator-specific receptor. This system plays an important role in various biological processes involving extracellular proteolysis. Recent studies have revealed that the system, through interplay with integrins and the extracellular matrix protein vitronectin, is also involved in the regulation of cell migration and proliferation in a manner independent of proteolytic activity. The genes are expressed in many different cell types and their expression is under the control of diverse extracellular signals. Gene expression reflects the levels of the corresponding mRNA, which should be the net result of synthesis and degradation. Thus, modulation of mRNA stability is an important factor in overall regulation. This review summarizes current understanding of the biology and regulation of genes involved in plasminogen activation at different levels.

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Received 21 December 1998; received after revision 8 March 1999; accepted 14 April 1999

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Irigoyen, J., Muñoz-Cánoves, P., Montero, L. et al. The plasminogen activator system: biology and regulation. CMLS, Cell. Mol. Life Sci. 56, 104–132 (1999).

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