The ECM protein Del-1 is one of several novel ECM proteins that accumulate around angiogenic blood vessels in embryonic and tumor tissue and promote angiogenesis in the absence of exogenous growth factors. Del-1 expressed in mouse or rabbit ischemic hind-limb muscle by gene transfer rapidly promotes new blood vessel formation and restores muscle function. This angiogenic ECM protein initiates angiogenesis by binding to integrin αvβ5 on resting endothelium, thereby resulting in expression of the transcription factor Hox D3 and integrin αvβ3. Hox D3 converts resting endothelium to angiogenic endothelium by inducing expression of proangiogenic molecules such as integrin αvβ3. These findings provide evidence for an angiogenic switch that can be initiated in the absence of exogenous growth factors and indicate that the angiogenic matrix protein Del-1 may be a useful tool for the therapy of ischemic disease.


Jingping Zhong, Brian Eliceiri, Dwayne Stupack, Kalyani Penta, Gordon Sakamoto, Thomas Quertermous, Mike Coleman, Nancy Boudreau, Judith A. Varner


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