Plasminogen activators are important mediators of extracellular metabolism. In the nervous system, plasminogen activators are thought to be involved in the remodeling events required for cell migration during development and regeneration. We have now explored the expression of the plasminogen activator/plasmin system in the adult murine central nervous system. Tissue-type plasminogen activator is synthesized by neurons of most brain regions, while prominent tissue-type plasminogen activator-catalyzed proteolysis is restricted to discrete areas, in particular within the hippocampus and hypothalamus. Our observations indicate that tissue-type plasminogen activator-catalyzed proteolysis in neural tissues is not limited to ontogeny, but may also contribute to adult central nervous system physiology, for instance by influencing neuronal plasticity and synaptic reorganization. The identification of an extracellular proteolytic system active in the adult central nervous system may also help gain insights into the pathogeny of neurodegenerative disorders associated with extracellular protein deposition.
A P Sappino, R Madani, J Huarte, D Belin, J Z Kiss, A Wohlwend, J D Vassalli