Résumé : Mutant urokinase-type plasminogen activator (u-PA) genes and hybrid genes between tissue-type plasminogen activator (t-PA) and u-PA have been designed to direct the synthesis of new plasminogen activators and to investigate the structure-function relationship in these molecules. The following classes of constructs were made starting from cDNA encoding human t-PA or u-PA: 1) u-PA mutants in which the Arg156 and Lys158 were substituted with threonine, thus preventing cleavage by thrombin and plasmin; 2) hybrid molecules in which the NH2-terminal regions of t-PA (amino acid residues 1-67, 1-262, or 1-313) were fused with the COOH-terminal region of u-PA (amino acids 136-411, 139-411, or 195-411, respectively); and 3) a hybrid molecule in which the second kringle of t-PA (amino acids 173-262) was inserted between amino acids 130 and 139 of u-PA. In all cases but one, the recombinant proteins, produced by transfected eukaryotic cells, were efficiently secreted in the culture medium. The translation products have been tested for their ability to activate plasminogen after in situ binding to an insolubilized monoclonal antibody directed against urokinase. All recombinant enzymes were shown to be active, except those in which Lys158 of u-PA was substituted with threonine. Recombination of structural regions derived from t-PA, such as the finger, the kringle 2, or most of the A-chain sequences, with the protease part or the complete u-PA molecule did not impair the catalytic activity of the hybrid polypeptides. This observation supports the hypothesis that structural domains in t-PA and u-PA fold independently from one to another.