The effect of tumor promoters and growth factors on the synthesis of urokinase and urokinase mRNA in human carcinoma cells has been investigated. In urokinase-producing human carcinoma cells (A1251), a 20-40-fold increase in urokinase mRNA level is obtained after treatment with 10 nM phorbol myristate acetate (PMA), a smaller effect (two- to fourfold) with 2 ng/ml platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) and no effect with epidermal growth factor (EGF) (up to 50 nM). After treatment with PMA, urokinase mRNA level increases already at 30 min peaking 2-4 h thereafter. Cell line A431, which has an abnormally high number of EGF receptors, shows the same response to PMA, but also responds to EGF (two- to fourfold increase in mRNA). The kinetics are similar to those of A1251. Nuclear transcription experiments show that the PMA-induced increase in urokinase mRNA is due to increased synthesis. The protein synthesis inhibitor, cycloheximide (10 micrograms/ml), also increases the level of urokinase mRNA. When both cycloheximide and PMA are used, super-induction is observed. This result may indicate that a short-lived protein negatively regulates the level of urokinase. The different efficiency of the effectors (PMA and PDGF better than EGF) and their kinetics, as well as the effect of cycloheximide on urokinase mRNA synthesis, (a) are reminiscent of the effect of PDGF and PMA on competence phase genes (Kelly, K., B.H. Cochran, C.D. Stiles, and P. Leder, 1983, Cell, 35: 603-610), (b) demonstrate that the synthesis of urokinase is part of the early cellular response to these factors, and (c) provide a preliminary insight in the overproduction of urokinase by primary malignant tumors and transformed cells in culture.

This content is only available as a PDF.