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J Biol Chem. 2004 Oct 29;279(44):46304-14. Epub 2004 Aug 24.

A novel snake venom vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) predominantly induces vascular permeability through preferential signaling via VEGF receptor-1.

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  • 1Division of Genetics, Institute of Medical Science, University of Tokyo, 4-6-1 Shirokane-dai, Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-8639, Japan.


Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)/vascular permeability factor induces both angiogenesis and vascular permeability mainly through VEGF receptor (VEGFR)-2 activation. VEGF binds VEGFR-1 as well, but the importance of VEGFR-1 signaling in vascular permeability has been largely neglected. Here, we report the purification and characterization of a novel VEGF-like protein from Trimeresurus flavoviridis Habu snake venom. The Habu snake has a venom-specific VEGF-like molecule, T. flavoviridis snake venom VEGF (TfsvVEGF), in addition to VEGF-A. TfsvVEGF has almost 10-fold less mitotic activity than VEGF(165), a predominant isoform of human VEGF-A, but a similar effect on vascular permeability. TfsvVEGF bound VEGFR-1 and induced its autophosphorylation to almost the same extent as VEGF(165), but bound VEGFR-2 weakly and induced its autophosphorylation almost 10-fold less effectively than VEGF(165). This unique binding affinity for VEGFR-1 and VEGFR-2 leads to the vascular permeability-dominant activity of TfsvVEGF. These results suggest that Habu snakes have acquired a highly purposive molecule for a toxin, which enhances the toxicity in envenomation without inducing effective angiogenesis and the following regeneration of damaged tissues, taking advantage of the difference in signaling properties involving VEGFR-1 and VEGFR-2 between vascular permeability and angiogenesis. TfsvVEGF is thus a potent inducing factor selective for vascular permeability through preferential signaling via VEGFR-1. These data strongly indicate the importance of VEGFR-1 signaling in vascular permeability.

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