Proteolytic activity generated by the plasminogen activator (PA) system is associated with many biological processes. Using an adult pseudopregnant rat model, we have studied how two components of the PA system, tissue-type plasminogen activator (tPA) and plasminogen activator inhibitor type 1 (PAI-1), are expressed temporally and spatially during different developmental stages of the corpus luteum (CL). Northern blot analysis, in situ hybridization, in situ zymography, and fibrin overlay were used to analyze the expression and distribution of tPA and PAI-1 messenger RNA (mRNA) as well as PA activity in CL of different ages. We demonstrated that during the luteinization period (approximately days 1-2), tPA mRNA was highly and evenly expressed in newly formed CL, whereas PAI-1 mRNA was mainly detected in the central part of the same CL. In accordance with these findings, proteolytic activity generated by tPA was detected in the outer region of newly formed CL by in situ zymography. During the luteotropic period (approximately days 3-10), tPA mRNA expression was very low. PAI-1 mRNA expression was also low, but increased on day 10. As expected, proteolytic activity was very low during this period. During functional luteolysis (days 13-14) and subsequent structural luteolysis, tPA mRNA was elevated. PAI-1 mRNA was also expressed during this period. Moreover, the net PA activity, as determined by fibrin overlay, was relatively high during this period. Our studies indicate that tPA and PAI-1 are coordinately expressed in the CL, resulting in increased proteolytic activities during the luteinization and luteolytic periods. PA-mediated proteolysis may, therefore, play a role in both CL formation and luteolysis in rats.
1996. Vol. 137, no 5, 2126-32 p.