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Cancer Res. 2002 Jul 15;62(14):4123-31.

VEGF165b, an inhibitory splice variant of vascular endothelial growth factor, is down-regulated in renal cell carcinoma.

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  • 1Microvascular Research Laboratories, Department of Physiology, Preclinical Veterinary School, University of Bristol, Bristol BS2 8EJ, United Kingdom.


Angiogenesis is essential for tumor growth. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is the most potent growth factor of tumor neovasculature, has been shown to be up-regulated in every tumor studied thus far, and is correlated with tumor stage and progression. To determine whether specific VEGF splice variants were differentially expressed in renal cell carcinomas, 18 polar tumor samples were analyzed by reverse transcription-PCR using primers designed to differentiate between VEGF splice variants. Control tissue was derived from the opposite normal pole. An amplicon of length consistent with the previously described variant VEGF(148) was found in normal kidney tissue. Subsequent sequencing revealed a new VEGF isoform formed by differential splicing from the end of exon 7 into the 3' untranslated region of the mRNA. Cloning of this transcript showed that translation would result in a 165-amino acid peptide with an alternative terminal 6 amino acids, followed by a stop codon. We have termed this new isoform VEGF165b. This isoform was present in 17 of 18 normal kidney samples but only 4 of 18 cases from matched malignant tissue. VEGF165b was therefore expressed in a significantly higher proportion of normal tissue than malignant tissue from the same patients (P < 0.001). To determine the functional significance of this new isoform, we expressed the full-length protein in a heterologous expression system. Conditioned medium containing this isoform significantly and dose dependently inhibited VEGF165-mediated proliferation, migration of endothelial cells, and vasodilatation of mesenteric arteries. This novel isoform VEGF165b is therefore an endogenous inhibitory form of VEGF that is down-regulated in renal tumors and, therefore, may be anti-angiogenesis.

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