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J Biol Chem. 2000 May 5;275(18):13802-11.

Norepinephrine induces vascular endothelial growth factor gene expression in brown adipocytes through a beta -adrenoreceptor/cAMP/protein kinase A pathway involving Src but independently of Erk1/2.

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  • 1Wenner-Gren Institute, The Arrhenius Laboratories F3, Stockholm University, SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden.


To identify the signaling pathway that mediates the adrenergic stimulation of the expression of the gene for vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) during physiologically induced angiogenesis, we examined mouse brown adipocytes in primary culture. The endogenous adrenergic neurotransmitter norepinephrine (NE) induced VEGF expression 3-fold, in a dose- and time-dependent manner (EC(50) approximately 90 nm). Also, the hypoxia-mimicking agent cobalt, as well as serum and phorbol ester, induced VEGF expression, but the effect of NE was additive to each of these factors, implying that a separate signaling mechanism for the NE-mediated induction was activated. The NE effect was abolished by propranolol and mimicked by isoprenaline or BRL-37344 and was thus mediated via beta-adrenoreceptors. The NE-induced VEGF expression was fully cAMP mediated, an effect which was inhibited by H-89 and thus was dependent on protein kinase A activity. Involvement of other adrenergic signaling pathways (alpha(1)-adrenoreceptors, Ca(2+), protein kinase C, alpha(2)-adrenoreceptors, and pertussis toxin-sensitive G(i)-proteins) was excluded. The specific inhibitor of Src tyrosine kinases, PP2, markedly reduced the stimulation by NE, which demonstrates that a cAMP-dependent Src-mediated pathway is positively connected to VEGF expression. However, inhibition of Erk1/2 MAP kinases by PD98059 was without effect. NE did not prolong VEGF mRNA half-life and its effect was thus transcriptional, and was independent of protein synthesis. These results demonstrate that adrenergic stimulation, through beta-adrenoreceptor/cAMP/protein kinase A signaling, recruits a pathway that branches off from the NE-activated Src-Erk1/2 cascade to enhance transcription of the VEGF gene.

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