The role of plasminogen activator receptor-in cancer invasion and dormancy

Liliana Ossowski, Julio Aguirre Ghiso, David Liu, Wen Yu, Katherine Kovalski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Urokinase plasminogen activator receptor (uPAR) has been identified some 15 years ago and the anticipation was that its presence on the cell surface will provide a focus for anchoring uPA and possibly protect the enzyme from native inhibitors. The studies of the last decade have shown that uPA localized to the surface of cells by uPAR is indeed an important factor in the process of cancer cell invasion and metastasis. We developed a chick embryo model in which we showed that uPAR is crucial in invasion of stroma and in intravasation (breaching of the blood vessels walls). More recently and unexpectedly, uPAR- a protein anchored in the outer leaflet of the plasma membrane, has been shown to initiate signal transduction events and affect cell migration. We have shown that uPAR co-associates with fibronectin binding integrin, α5β1, activates them and that this interaction leads to a greatly increased level of active ERK. When the association between uPAR and integrin or integrin and fibronectin are interrupted either by reduction of surface uPAR expression, or by other means, human carcinoma cells enter a state of protracted dormancy. We show that very high levels of active ERK are required to keep cancer cells proliferating in vivo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)547-552
Number of pages6
Issue number5 II
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Cancer dormancy
  • ERK
  • Intravasation
  • Invasion
  • Urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA)
  • uPA receptor (uPAR)
  • α5b1 integrin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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