Cultured thioglycollate-stimulated peritoneal macrophages synthesize, accumulate, and continuously release high levels of plasminogen activators for at least 4 days whereas cultures of unstimulated macrophages do not; the higher specific catalytic activity of released vs. cell-associated enzyme suggests that the plasminogen activators are actively secreted. The major macrophage plasminogen activator is a serine protease of mol wt 48,000, and thus resembles the comparable enzyme released by virally transformed fibroblasts. Macrophages release a second plasminogen activator of mol wt 28,000 that is also a serine enzyme.
The secretion products released by stimulated and unstimulated macrophages have been compared by SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis after chemical labeling with 3H-DFP or biosynthetic labeling with 14C-amino acids. These procedures show that some proteins are formed in both cultures, whereas others are uniquely secreted by each type of macrophage. The serine enzymes released by the two kinds of macrophages differ in specificity and electrophoretic mobility.