Loss of cell viability dramatically elevates cell surface plasminogen binding and activation

Matthew J. O'Mullane, Mark S. Baker*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


The plasminogen activation cascade is focused at the cell surface by virtue of the presence of plasminogen and plasminogen activator receptors. We have utilized flow cytometric plasminogen (plg) binding and activation assays to examine both plasminogen binding and activation on the surface of specific subpopulations of U937 cells (viable, apoptotic, and dead cells). A direct relationship was found to exist between cell viability (propidium iodide uptake) and the magnitude of lysine-dependent plasminogen binding, with apoptotic and dead subpopulations of cells binding up to 100-fold more plasminogen than viable cells. Despite the high level of lysine-dependent plasminogen binding on dead cells, plasminogen activation was minimal due to low levels of cell-surface urokinase plasminogen activator. Plasminogen activation readily occurred on the surface of apoptotic cells because of a dramatic increase in both lysine-dependent plasminogen binding and endogenous urokinase plasminogen activator. These results indicate that colocalization of plasminogen and urokinase plasminogen activator are paramount for plasminogen activation to proceed on the cell surface. Our data also strongly implicate the involvement of the plasminogen activation cascade in apoptosis, especially on urokinase plasminogen activator-expressing cell types. The current study clearly supports the important role of flow cytometry in cellular plasminogen binding and activation studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-164
Number of pages12
JournalExperimental Cell Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Apoptosis
  • Cell viability
  • Plasminogen
  • Plasminogen activation
  • Plasminogen binding
  • U937


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