Activation of single-chain urokinase-type plasminogen activator by platelet-associated plasminogen: a mechanism for stimulation of fibrinolysis by platelets


Nuala A. Booth, University of Aberdeen, IMS, Foresterhill, Aberdeen AB25 2ZD, UK.
Tel.: +44 1224 555818; fax: +44 1224 555844.


Summary. Background and Objective: Platelets are essential for hemostasis, and they cause resistance to fibrinolysis by tissue-type plasminogen activator. In contrast, platelets enhance fibrinolysis mediated by single-chain urokinase-type plasminogen activator (scu-PA). This study investigated the mechanism behind this profibrinolytic role of platelets. Methods and Results: Platelets enhanced scu-PA activity, but not urokinase-type plasminogen activator (u-PA) activity, in plasma clot lysis and chromogenic assays. We established, using the non-cleavable scu-PA mutant (Lys158→Glu) and protease inhibitors, that platelets increased activation to u-PA by a serine protease. Activation of scu-PA was platelet-dependent, even in plasma. It occurred in platelet-rich but not in platelet-poor plasma, as assessed by sodium dodecylsulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and zymography after addition of plasminogen activator inhibitor-1. Candidate proteases that are known to activate scu-PA and are present in platelet preparations were investigated. Factor VII activating protease was detected in platelet preparations by western blotting, but its inhibition by antibodies did not inhibit activation of scu-PA by platelets. Plasmin and plasma kallikrein both mimicked the platelet effect, but were distinguished by their responses to a range of inhibitors. Analysis of platelet-associated protease activity and the time course of scu-PA activation pointed towards plasminogen, and the data were consistent with a mechanism of reciprocal activation. The essential role of plasminogen was revealed using platelets from plasminogen-deficient mice, which could not activate scu-PA. Local plasminogen on platelet membranes was markedly more effective than solution-phase plasminogen in activation of scu-PA. Conclusions: Platelets enhance fibrinolysis by scu-PA through reciprocal activation of scu-PA and platelet-associated plasminogen, a system that is potentially important in the lysis of platelet-rich thrombi.