Analyses were made of the fibrinolytic, plasminogen-activating system in skeletal muscle to determine if a regulating influence of the nerve could be detected on these enzymes. Young male mice underwent right sciatic neurectomy. Extracts were prepared from denervated muscle at 2-17 d after axotomy and compared with controls. Using a cascade-style biochemical assay (Rånby, M., B. Norrman, and P. Wallén, 1982, Thromb. Res., 27:743-748) we found that low levels of plasminogen activator (PA) were present in adult, innervated mouse muscle, but that denervation resulted in a marked time-dependent increase in enzyme activity. Qualitative separation showed an eightfold increase in urokinase-like PA with moderate elevation of tissue PA activity after 10 d. Fibrin zymography (Granelli-Piperno, A., and E. Reich, 1978, J. Exp. Med., 148:223-234) revealed clear zones of lysis corresponding to molecular masses of 48 kD for urokinase-like PA and 75 kD for tissue PA, consistent with the molecular masses found for these enzymes in other tissues of the mouse (Danø, K., P. A. Andreasen, J. Grøndahl-Hansen, P. Kristensen, L. S. Nielsen, and L. Skriver, 1985, Adv. Cancer Res., 44:139-266). In other studies we have shown that PA-activated plasmin readily attacks critical adhesive basement membrane molecules. The present results indicate that enzymes involved in plasminogen activation, particularly urokinase-like PA, rapidly increase after axotomy, suggesting they may have a role early in muscle denervation. Similar alterations in PA activity might underlie the elimination of polyneuronal innervation during mammalian muscle development. Certain neuromuscular diseases may also involve activation of these enzymes, resulting in degradation of basement membrane zone components and, therefore, warrant further study.

This content is only available as a PDF.