The receptor for urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPAR) is an integral membrane protein that specifically binds urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) and plays a crucial role in cell surface plasmin generation. We have previously found that transforming growth factor-beta, type 1 (TGF-beta 1), increases uPAR gene transcription in the human lung carcinoma cell line A549 and now report that also epidermal growth factor (EGF) and the tumour promoter phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA) cause increased uPAR transcription and that PMA and TGF-beta 1 in addition increase the stability of uPAR mRNA, while EGF has no effect on this parameter. All three compounds also increase the uPAR protein level, as measured by cell-binding experiments with radiolabelled ligand. The increase in uPAR protein level was however considerably lower with all three compounds than the increase in mRNA level, suggesting that they also exert a translational or post-translational control. Accompanying the increase in the number of uPAR molecules there was a proportional decrease in their ligand-binding affinity, the mechanism of which is unknown. Platelet-derived growth factor, basic fibroblast growth factor and cyclic AMP analogues did not induce any change in the uPAR mRNA level in A549 cells. Previous studies have shown that expression of uPA and its type-1 inhibitor is regulated by a variety of cytokines in a cell-specific manner. The present study indicates that cytokines in addition influence cell surface plasminogen activation by regulating uPAR expression.

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