We have identified a soluble form of the human urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA) receptor (uPAR) in the ascitic fluids from patients with ovarian cancer. After purification of uPAR from the ascitic fluids by ligand-affinity chromatography (pro-uPA Sepharose), the uPAR was initially identified by cross-linking to a radiolabeled amino-terminal fragment of human uPA. The uPAR purified from the ascitic fluid has no bound ligand (uPA), as similar amounts can be purified by ligand-affinity chromatography as by immuno-affinity chromatography. uPAR from ascitic fluids partitions in the water phase after a temperature-dependent phase separation of a detergent extract. It therefore lacks at least the lipid moiety of the glycophospholipid anchor present in cellular-bound uPARs. It is highly glycosylated and the deglycosylated form has the same electrophoretic mobility as previously characterized cellular uPAR from other sources. The immunoreactivity of the purified uPAR from the ascitic fluid is indistinguishable from that of characterized uPAR, demonstrated by Western blotting with three different anti-uPAR monoclonal antibodies. The uPAR was found in 11 of 11 ascitic fluids from patients with ovarian cancer and in elevated amounts in the plasma from 2 of 3 patients. The concentration of soluble uPAR in the ascitic fluid was estimated to range between 1 and 10 ng/ml. Human soluble uPAR, derived from the tumor cells, was also found in the ascitic fluid and serum from nude mice xenografted intraperitoneally with three different human ovarian carcinomas.


N Pedersen, M Schmitt, E Rønne, M I Nicoletti, G Høyer-Hansen, M Conese, R Giavazzi, K Dano, W Kuhn, F Jänicke


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