Tumor angiogenesis is critical for cancer progression. In multiple murine models, endothelium-specific epsin deficiency abrogates tumor progression by shifting the balance of VEGFR2 signaling toward uncontrolled tumor angiogenesis, resulting in dysfunctional tumor vasculature. Here, we designed a tumor endothelium–targeting chimeric peptide (UPI) for the purpose of inhibiting endogenous tumor endothelial epsins by competitively binding activated VEGFR2. We determined that the UPI peptide specifically targets tumor endothelial VEGFR2 through an unconventional binding mechanism that is driven by unique residues present only in the epsin ubiquitin–interacting motif (UIM) and the VEGFR2 kinase domain. In murine models of neoangiogenesis, UPI peptide increased VEGF-driven angiogenesis and neovascularization but spared quiescent vascular beds. Further, in tumor-bearing mice, UPI peptide markedly impaired functional tumor angiogenesis, tumor growth, and metastasis, resulting in a notable increase in survival. Coadministration of UPI peptide with cytotoxic chemotherapeutics further sustained tumor inhibition. Equipped with localized tumor endothelium–specific targeting, our UPI peptide provides potential for an effective and alternative cancer therapy.
Yunzhou Dong, Hao Wu, H.N. Ashiqur Rahman, Yanjun Liu, Satish Pasula, Kandice L. Tessneer, Xiaofeng Cai, Xiaolei Liu, Baojun Chang, John McManus, Scott Hahn, Jiali Dong, Megan L. Brophy, Lili Yu, Kai Song, Robert Silasi-Mansat, Debra Saunders, Charity Njoku, Hoogeun Song, Padmaja Mehta-D’Souza, Rheal Towner, Florea Lupu, Rodger P. McEver, Lijun Xia, Derek Boerboom, R. Sathish Srinivasan, Hong Chen
Lung transplantation is the only viable option for patients suffering from otherwise incurable end-stage pulmonary diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Despite aggressive immunosuppression, acute rejection of the lung allograft occurs in over half of transplant recipients, and the factors that promote lung acceptance are poorly understood. The contribution of lymphatic vessels to transplant pathophysiology remains controversial, and data that directly address the exact roles of lymphatic vessels in lung allograft function and survival are limited. Here, we have shown that there is a marked decline in the density of lymphatic vessels, accompanied by accumulation of low-MW hyaluronan (HA) in mouse orthotopic allografts undergoing rejection. We found that stimulation of lymphangiogenesis with VEGF-C156S, a mutant form of VEGF-C with selective VEGFR-3 binding, alleviates an established rejection response and improves clearance of HA from the lung allograft. Longitudinal analysis of transbronchial biopsies from human lung transplant recipients demonstrated an association between resolution of acute lung rejection and decreased HA in the graft tissue. Taken together, these results indicate that lymphatic vessel formation after lung transplantation mediates HA drainage and suggest that treatments to stimulate lymphangiogenesis have promise for improving graft outcomes.
Ye Cui, Kaifeng Liu, Maria E. Monzon-Medina, Robert F. Padera, Hao Wang, Gautam George, Demet Toprak, Elie Abdelnour, Emmanuel D’Agostino, Hilary J. Goldberg, Mark A. Perrella, Rosanna Malbran Forteza, Ivan O. Rosas, Gary Visner, Souheil El-Chemaly
Fluid shear forces have established roles in blood vascular development and function, but whether such forces similarly influence the low-flow lymphatic system is unknown. It has been difficult to test the contribution of fluid forces in vivo because mechanical or genetic perturbations that alter flow often have direct effects on vessel growth. Here, we investigated the functional role of flow in lymphatic vessel development using mice deficient for the platelet-specific receptor C-type lectin–like receptor 2 (CLEC2) as blood backfills the lymphatic network and blocks lymph flow in these animals. CLEC2-deficient animals exhibited normal growth of the primary mesenteric lymphatic plexus but failed to form valves in these vessels or remodel them into a structured, hierarchical network. Smooth muscle cell coverage (SMC coverage) of CLEC2-deficient lymphatic vessels was both premature and excessive, a phenotype identical to that observed with loss of the lymphatic endothelial transcription factor FOXC2. In vitro evaluation of lymphatic endothelial cells (LECs) revealed that low, reversing shear stress is sufficient to induce expression of genes required for lymphatic valve development and identified GATA2 as an upstream transcriptional regulator of FOXC2 and the lymphatic valve genetic program. These studies reveal that lymph flow initiates and regulates many of the key steps in collecting lymphatic vessel maturation and development.
Daniel T. Sweet, Juan M. Jiménez, Jeremy Chang, Paul R. Hess, Patricia Mericko-Ishizuka, Jianxin Fu, Lijun Xia, Peter F. Davies, Mark L. Kahn
RASA1 (also known as p120 RasGAP) is a Ras GTPase–activating protein that functions as a regulator of blood vessel growth in adult mice and humans. In humans, RASA1 mutations cause capillary malformation–arteriovenous malformation (CM-AVM); whether it also functions as a regulator of the lymphatic vasculature is unknown. We investigated this issue using mice in which Rasa1 could be inducibly deleted by administration of tamoxifen. Systemic loss of RASA1 resulted in a lymphatic vessel disorder characterized by extensive lymphatic vessel hyperplasia and leakage and early lethality caused by chylothorax (lymphatic fluid accumulation in the pleural cavity). Lymphatic vessel hyperplasia was a consequence of increased proliferation of lymphatic endothelial cells (LECs) and was also observed in mice in which induced deletion of Rasa1 was restricted to LECs. RASA1-deficient LECs showed evidence of constitutive activation of Ras in situ. Furthermore, in isolated RASA1-deficient LECs, activation of the Ras signaling pathway was prolonged and cellular proliferation was enhanced after ligand binding to different growth factor receptors, including VEGFR-3. Blockade of VEGFR-3 was sufficient to inhibit the development of lymphatic vessel hyperplasia after loss of RASA1 in vivo. These findings reveal a role for RASA1 as a physiological negative regulator of LEC growth that maintains the lymphatic vasculature in a quiescent functional state through its ability to inhibit Ras signal transduction initiated through LEC-expressed growth factor receptors such as VEGFR-3.
Philip E. Lapinski, Sunkuk Kwon, Beth A. Lubeck, John E. Wilkinson, R. Sathish Srinivasan, Eva Sevick-Muraca, Philip D. King
Stroke is the leading cause of long-term disability and the third leading cause of death in the United States. While most research thus far has focused on acute stroke treatment and neuroprotection, the exploitation of endogenous brain self-repair mechanisms may also yield therapeutic strategies. Here, we describe a distinct type of stroke treatment, the naturally occurring extracellular matrix fragment of perlecan, domain V, which we found had neuroprotective properties and enhanced post-stroke angiogenesis, a key component of brain repair, in rodent models of stroke. In both rat and mouse models, Western blot analysis revealed elevated levels of perlecan domain V. When systemically administered 24 hours after stroke, domain V was well tolerated, reached infarct and peri-infarct brain vasculature, and restored stroke-affected motor function to baseline pre-stroke levels in these multiple stroke models in both mice and rats. Post-stroke domain V administration increased VEGF levels via a mechanism involving brain endothelial cell α5β1 integrin, and the subsequent neuroprotective and angiogenic actions of domain V were in turn mediated via VEGFR. These results suggest that perlecan domain V represents a promising approach for stroke treatment.
Boyeon Lee, Douglas Clarke, Abraham Al Ahmad, Michael Kahle, Christi Parham, Lisa Auckland, Courtney Shaw, Mehmet Fidanboylu, Anthony Wayne Orr, Omolara Ogunshola, Andrzej Fertala, Sarah A. Thomas, Gregory J. Bix
Neovessel formation is a complex process governed by the orchestrated action of multiple factors that regulate EC specification and dynamics within a growing vascular tree. These factors have been widely exploited to develop therapies for angiogenesis-related diseases such as diabetic retinopathy and tumor growth and metastasis. WNT signaling has been implicated in the regulation and development of the vascular system, but the detailed mechanism of this process remains unclear. Here, we report that Dickkopf1 (DKK1) and Dickkopf2 (DKK2), originally known as WNT antagonists, play opposite functional roles in regulating angiogenesis. DKK2 induced during EC morphogenesis promoted angiogenesis in cultured human endothelial cells and in in vivo assays using mice. Its structural homolog, DKK1, suppressed angiogenesis and was repressed upon induction of morphogenesis. Importantly, local injection of DKK2 protein significantly improved tissue repair, with enhanced neovascularization in animal models of both hind limb ischemia and myocardial infarction. We further showed that DKK2 stimulated filopodial dynamics and angiogenic sprouting of ECs via a signaling cascade involving LRP6-mediated APC/Asef2/Cdc42 activation. Thus, our findings demonstrate the distinct functions of DKK1 and DKK2 in controlling angiogenesis and suggest that DKK2 may be a viable therapeutic target in the treatment of ischemic vascular diseases.
Jeong-Ki Min, Hongryeol Park, Hyun-Jung Choi, Yonghak Kim, Bo-Jeong Pyun, Vijayendra Agrawal, Byeong-Wook Song, Jongwook Jeon, Yong-Sun Maeng, Seung-Sik Rho, Sungbo Shim, Jin-Ho Chai, Bon-Kyoung Koo, Hyo Jeong Hong, Chae-Ok Yun, Chulhee Choi, Young-Myoung Kim, Ki-Chul Hwang, Young-Guen Kwon
Angiogenesis is a hallmark of malignant neoplasias, as the formation of new blood vessels is required for tumors to acquire oxygen and nutrients essential for their continued growth and metastasis. However, the signaling pathways leading to tumor vascularization are not fully understood. Here, using a transplantable mouse tumor model, we have demonstrated that endogenous IFN-β inhibits tumor angiogenesis through repression of genes encoding proangiogenic and homing factors in tumor-infiltrating neutrophils. We determined that IFN-β–deficient mice injected with B16F10 melanoma or MCA205 fibrosarcoma cells developed faster-growing tumors with better-developed blood vessels than did syngeneic control mice. These tumors displayed enhanced infiltration by CD11b+Gr1+ neutrophils expressing elevated levels of the genes encoding the proangiogenic factors VEGF and MMP9 and the homing receptor CXCR4. They also expressed higher levels of the transcription factors c-myc and STAT3, known regulators of VEGF, MMP9, and CXCR4. In vitro, treatment of these tumor-infiltrating neutrophils with low levels of IFN-β restored expression of proangiogenic factors to control levels. Moreover, depletion of these neutrophils inhibited tumor growth in both control and IFN-β–deficient mice. We therefore suggest that constitutively produced endogenous IFN-β is an important mediator of innate tumor surveillance. Further, we believe our data help to explain the therapeutic effect of IFN treatment during the early stages of cancer development.
Jadwiga Jablonska, Sara Leschner, Kathrin Westphal, Stefan Lienenklaus, Siegfried Weiss
Infantile hemangioma is a benign endothelial tumor composed of disorganized blood vessels. It exhibits a unique life cycle of rapid postnatal growth followed by slow regression to a fibrofatty residuum. Here, we have reported the isolation of multipotential stem cells from hemangioma tissue that give rise to hemangioma-like lesions in immunodeficient mice. Cells were isolated based on expression of the stem cell marker CD133 and expanded from single cells as clonal populations. The CD133-selected cells generated human blood vessels 7 days after implantation in immunodeficient mice. Cell retrieval experiments showed the cells could again form vessels when transplanted into secondary recipients. The human vessels expressed GLUT-1 and merosin, immunodiagnostic markers for infantile hemangioma. Two months after implantation, the number of blood vessels diminished and human adipocytes became evident. Lentiviral expression of GFP was used to confirm that the hemangioma-derived cells formed the blood vessels and adipocytes in the immunodeficient mice. Thus, when transplanted into immunodeficient mice, hemangioma-derived cells recapitulated the unique evolution of infantile hemangioma — the formation of blood vessels followed by involution to fatty tissue. In summary, this study identifies a stem cell as the cellular origin of infantile hemangioma and describes for what we believe is the first time an animal model for this common tumor of infancy.
Zia A. Khan, Elisa Boscolo, Arnaud Picard, Sarah Psutka, Juan M. Melero-Martin, Tatianna C. Bartch, John B. Mulliken, Joyce Bischoff
Despite its early discovery and high sequence homology to the other VEGF family members, the biological functions of VEGF-B remain poorly understood. We revealed here a novel function for VEGF-B as a potent inhibitor of apoptosis. Using gene expression profiling of mouse primary aortic smooth muscle cells, and confirming the results by real-time PCR using mouse and rat cell lines, we showed that VEGF-B inhibited the expression of genes encoding the proapoptotic BH3-only proteins and other apoptosis- and cell death–related proteins, including p53 and members of the caspase family, via activation of VEGFR-1. Consistent with this, VEGF-B treatment rescued neurons from apoptosis in the retina and brain in mouse models of ocular neurodegenerative disorders and stroke, respectively. Interestingly, VEGF-B treatment at the dose effective for neuronal survival did not cause retinal neovascularization, suggesting that VEGF-B is the first member of the VEGF family that has a potent antiapoptotic effect while lacking a general angiogenic activity. These findings indicate that VEGF-B may potentially offer a new therapeutic option for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.
Yang Li, Fan Zhang, Nobuo Nagai, Zhongshu Tang, Shuihua Zhang, Pierre Scotney, Johan Lennartsson, Chaoyong Zhu, Yi Qu, Changge Fang, Jianyuan Hua, Osamu Matsuo, Guo-Hua Fong, Hao Ding, Yihai Cao, Kevin G. Becker, Andrew Nash, Carl-Henrik Heldin, Xuri Li
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