Urokinase plasminogen activator as an anti-metastasis target: inhibitor design principles, recent amiloride derivatives, and issues with human/mouse species selectivity

Publication Name

Biophysical Reviews


The urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA) is a widely studied anticancer drug target with multiple classes of inhibitors reported to date. Many of these inhibitors contain amidine or guanidine groups, while others lacking these groups show improved oral bioavailability. Most of the X-ray co-crystal structures of small molecule uPA inhibitors show a key salt bridge with the side chain carboxylate of Asp189 in the S1 pocket of uPA. This review summarises the different classes of uPA inhibitors, their binding interactions and experimentally measured inhibitory potencies and highlights species selectivity issues with attention to recently described 6-substituted amiloride and 5‑N,N-(hexamethylene)amiloride (HMA) derivatives.

Open Access Status

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Funding Number


Funding Sponsor

National Health and Medical Research Council



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