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EMBO J. Jan 15, 1996; 15(2): 290–298.
PMCID: PMC449944

A novel vascular endothelial growth factor, VEGF-C, is a ligand for the Flt4 (VEGFR-3) and KDR (VEGFR-2) receptor tyrosine kinases.

Abstract

Angiogenesis, the sprouting of new blood vessels from pre-existing ones, and the permeability of blood vessels are regulated by vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) via its two known receptors Flt1 (VEGFR-1) and KDR/Flk-1 (VEGFR-2). The Flt4 receptor tyrosine kinase is related to the VEGF receptors, but does not bind VEGF and its expression becomes restricted mainly to lymphatic endothelia during development. In this study, we have purified the Flt4 ligand, VEGF-C, and cloned its cDNA from human prostatic carcinoma cells. While VEGF-C is homologous to other members of the VEGF/platelet derived growth factor (PDGF) family, its C-terminal half contains extra cysteine-rich motifs characteristic of a protein component of silk produced by the larval salivary glands of the midge, Chironomus tentans. VEGF-C is proteolytically processed, binds Flt4, which we rename as VEGFR-3 and induces tyrosine autophosphorylation of VEGFR-3 and VEGFR-2. In addition, VEGF-C stimulated the migration of bovine capillary endothelial cells in collagen gel. VEGF-C is thus a novel regulator of endothelia, and its effects may extend beyond the lymphatic system, where Flt4 is expressed.

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