Urokinase plasminogen activator/urokinase-specific surface receptor expression and matrix invasion by breast cancer cells requires constitutive p38α mitogen-activated protein kinase activity

Shuang Huang, Liguo New, Zhixing Pan, Jiahuai Han, Glen R. Nemerow

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120 Scopus citations


Overexpression of urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA) and its receptor (uPAR) has been well documented in a wide variety of tumor cells. In breast cancer, expression of uPA/uPAR is essential for tumor cell invasion and metastasis. However, the mechanism responsible for uPA/uPAR expression in cancer cells remains unclear. In the studies reported here, we show that endogenous p38 MAPK activity correlates well with breast carcinoma cell invasiveness. Treatment of highly invasive BT549 cells with a specific p38 MAPK inhibitor SB203580 diminished both uPA/uPAR mRNA and protein expression and abrogated the ability of these cells to invade matrigel, suggesting that p38 MAPK signaling pathway is involved in the regulation of uPA/uPAR expression and breast cancer cell invasion. We also demonstrated that SB203580-induced reduction in uPA/uPAR mRNA expression resulted from the destabilization of uPA and uPAR mRNA. Finally, by selectively inhibiting p38α or p38β MAPK isoforms, we demonstrate that p38α, rather than p38β, MAPK activity is essential for uPA/uPAR expression. These studies suggest that p38α MAPK signaling pathway is important for the maintenance of breast cancer invasive phenotype by promoting the stabilities of uPA and uPAR mRNA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12266-12272
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - Apr 21 2000


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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