A new genetic approach for studying hormonal regulation of urokinase-type plasminogen activator gene expression in LLC-PK1 cells

Hofstetter P, Kikinis Z, Altus MS, Pearson D, Nagamine Y

Mol. Cell. Biol. 1987 Dec;7(12):4535-41

PMID: 2830499


In LLC-PK1 cells, a cyclic AMP (cAMP)-elevating peptide hormone, calcitonin, induces urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) gene transcription without concomitant protein synthesis. To understand the molecular mechanism of the uPA gene regulation by cAMP, we developed a system which allows us to obtain mutant cells with modified regulatory proteins. A uPA-gpt hybrid gene was constructed, in which the regulatory region of the uPA gene was linked to a bacterial xanthine-guanine phosphoribosyltransferase gene (gpt), and it was transfected into LLC-PK1 cells. A stably transformed cell line, which expressed gpt only in the presence of calcitonin, was obtained, and then these cells were treated with a chemical mutagen, ethyl methanesulfonate. Cells were screened for constitutive gpt expression and, as mutations in regulatory proteins should affect the two genes at the same time, cells were further screened for an increased basal uPA mRNA level. Several such clones were obtained and none of them had modified cAMP-dependent protein kinase activity, suggesting that mutations were in the post-protein kinase step in the pathway of hormone action. Five clones were fused with the parent LLC-PK1 cells, and all of the fusion cells showed reduced basal uPA mRNA levels, indicating that they were recessive mutants. One clone was analyzed further for sensitivity to calcitonin in the induction of uPA mRNA, and it showed a significantly different dose-response pattern compared with parent cells. These results suggest that the uPA gene is regulated, at least partly, by a negatively regulating factor and that the action of cAMP is linked to this factor.