Modulation of cellular migration and survival by c-Myc through the downregulation of urokinase (uPA) and uPA receptor


It has been proposed that c-Myc proapoptotic activity accounts for most of its restraint of tumor formation. We established a telomerase-immortalized human epithelial cell line expressing an activatable c-Myc protein. We found that c-Myc activation induces, in addition to increased sensitivity to apoptosis, reductions in cell motility and invasiveness. Transcriptome analysis revealed that urokinase (uPA) and uPA receptor (uPAR) were strongly downregulated by c-Myc. Evidence is provided that the repression of uPA and uPAR may account for most of the antimigratory and proapoptotic activities of c-Myc. c-Myc is known to cooperate with Ras in cellular transformation. We therefore investigated if this cooperation could converge in the control of uPA/uPAR expression. We found that Ras is able to block the effects of c-Myc activation on apoptosis and cellular motility but not on cell invasiveness. Accordingly, the activation of c-Myc in the context of Ras expression had only minor influence on uPAR expression but still had a profound repressive effect on uPA expression. Thus, the differential regulation of uPA and uPAR by c-Myc and Ras correlates with the effects of these two oncoproteins on cell motility, invasiveness, and survival. In conclusion, we have discovered a novel link between c-Myc and uPA/uPAR. We propose that reductions of cell motility and invasiveness could contribute to the inhibition of tumorigenesis by c-Myc and that the regulation of uPA and uPAR expression may be a component of the ability of c-Myc to reduce motility and invasiveness.

Journal details

Volume 30
Issue number 7
Pages 1838-1851
Publication date