The ability of U937 monocyte-like cells and KATO III cells (a human gastric carcinoma line) to potentiate activation of plasminogen by single-chain urokinase-type plasminogen activator (scu-PA), as mediated by the cell receptor for urokinase (u-PAR), was compared. It was observed that, although the concentration of u-PAR on these cell lines differed considerably (U937 cells: 5000 receptors/cell, Kd 0.35 nM; KATO III cells: 400 receptors/cell, Kd 0.85 nM), the rate of activation of plasminogen by scu-PA in the presence of the same density of each cell line was equivalent. From data generated in the presence of increasing concentrations of scu-PA, the kcat, for plasminogen activation in the presence of each cell line was calculated and found to differ by 26-fold (0.36 s-1 on U937 cells; 9.25 s-1 on KATO III cells). However, the Km for plasminogen with respect to the rate of formation of plasmin was lower than the Kd for binding (0.2 microM compared with 0.5 microM on U937 cells; 0.34 microM compared with 1.6 microM on KATO III cells). A rapid transformation from Glu-plasminogen (native plasminogen with N-terminal Glu) to Lys-plasminogen (plasmin-degraded plasminogen with primarily N-terminal Lys-77) occurred on the surface of U937 cells (unlike KATO III cells), but this transition did not coincide with faster rates of plasminogen activation. From this evidence it is concluded that the accessibility of bound plasminogen acts to limit the rate of activation by cell-bound urokinase. The significance of this proposal is that the proteolytic potential of the cell-mediated activation of plasminogen would be controlled by the accessibility of plasminogen for activation rather than by the concentration of u-PAR (the latter may act to localize proteolysis to appropriate domains on the surface of the cell).

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