Journal of Cell Biology vol:140 issue:1 pages:233-45
It has been proposed that the urokinase receptor (u-PAR) is essential for the various biological roles of urokinase-type plasminogen activator (u-PA) in vivo, and that smooth muscle cells require u-PA for migration during arterial neointima formation. The present study was undertaken to evaluate the role of u-PAR during this process in mice with targeted disruption of the u-PAR gene (u-PAR-/-). Surprisingly, u-PAR deficiency did not affect arterial neointima formation, neointimal cell accumulation, or migration of smooth muscle cells. Indeed, topographic analysis of arterial wound healing after electric injury revealed that u-PAR-/- smooth muscle cells, originating from the uninjured borders, migrated over a similar distance and at a similar rate into the necrotic center of the wound as wild-type (u-PAR+/+) smooth muscle cells. In addition, u-PAR deficiency did not impair migration of wounded cultured smooth muscle cells in vitro. There were no genotypic differences in reendothelialization of the vascular wound. The minimal role of u-PAR in smooth muscle cell migration was not because of absent expression, since wild-type smooth muscle cells expressed u-PAR mRNA and functional receptor in vitro and in vivo. Pericellular plasmin proteolysis, evaluated by degradation of 125I-labeled fibrin and activation of zymogen matrix metalloproteinases, was similar for u-PAR-/- and u-PAR+/+ cells. Immunoelectron microscopy of injured arteries in vivo revealed that u-PA was bound on the cell surface of u-PAR+/+ cells, whereas it was present in the pericellular space around u-PAR-/- cells. Taken together, these results suggest that binding of u-PA to u-PAR is not required to provide sufficient pericellular u-PA-mediated plasmin proteolysis to allow cellular migration into a vascular wound.