The cellular receptor for urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPAR) is a glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored membrane protein that plays a central role in pericellular plasminogen activation. It contains 313 amino acid residues, including 28 cysteine residues in a pattern of three homologous repeats. The cysteine residue pattern suggests that uPAR belongs to a superfamily of proteins including CD59, murine Ly-6, and a variety of elapid snake venom toxins. A novel 1.7-kb uPAR cDNA was isolated that is missing exon 5 and that contains 380 bp not previously reported at the 5′ end. This cDNA was used to probe a human genomic library from which three clones were isolated and analyzed. The uPAR gene consists of 7 exons spread over 23 kb of genomic DNA. Exons 2, 4, and 6 code for homologous domains within the mature protein, as do exons 3, 5, and 7; CD59-like homologous pairs are encoded by exons 2–3, 4–5, and 6–7, respectively. The structure of the gene for uPAR further confirms the relationship of this molecule to the superfamily containing CD59, Ly-6, and the elapid snake venom toxins.

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