The ability of the chick embryo chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) to withstand invasion by tumor cells can be intentionally compromised by altering its morphological integrity. Using a newly developed quantitative assay of invasion we showed that intact CAMs were completely resistant to invasion by tumor cells, wounded CAMs did not pose a barrier to penetration, and CAMs that were wounded and then allowed to reseal displayed partial susceptibility to invasion. The invasion of resealed CAMs required catalytically active plasminogen activator (PA) of the urokinase type (uPA); the invasive efficiency of tumor cells was reduced by 75% when tumor uPA activity or tumor uPA production was inhibited. The invasive ability of human tumor cells, which have surface uPA receptors but which do not produce the enzyme, could be augmented by saturating their receptors with exogenous uPA. The mere stimulation of either uPA or tissue plasminogen activator production, in absence of binding to cell receptors, did not result in an enhancement of invasiveness. These findings suggest that the increased invasive potential of tumor cells is correlated with cell surface-associated proteolytic activity stemming from the interaction between uPA and its surface receptor.

This content is only available as a PDF.