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J Pathol. 2010 Feb;220(3):370-81. doi: 10.1002/path.2654.

Genetic ablation of the alpha 6-integrin subunit in Tie1Cre mice enhances tumour angiogenesis.

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  • 1The Adhesion and Angiogenesis Laboratory, Institute of Cancer, Queen Mary, University of London, Charterhouse Square, London, EC1M 6BQ, UK.


Laminins are expressed highly in blood vessel basement membranes and have been implicated in angiogenesis. alpha6beta1- and alpha6beta4-integrins are major receptors for laminins in endothelial cells, but the precise role of endothelial alpha6-integrin in tumour angiogenesis is not clear. We show that blood vessels in human invasive ductal carcinoma of the breast have decreased expression of the alpha6-integrin-subunit when compared with normal breast tissue. These data suggest that a decrease in alpha6-integrin-subunit expression in endothelial cells is associated with tumour angiogenesis. To test whether the loss of the endothelial alpha6-integrin subunit affects tumour growth and angiogenesis, we generated alpha6fl/fl-Tie1Cre+ mice and showed that endothelial deletion of alpha6-integrin is sufficient to enhance tumour size and tumour angiogenesis in both murine B16F0 melanoma and Lewis cell lung carcinoma. Mechanistically, endothelial alpha6-integrin deficiency elevated significantly VEGF-mediated angiogenesis both in vivo and ex vivo. In particular, alpha6-integrin-deficient endothelial cells displayed increased levels of VEGF-receptor 2 (VEGFR2) and VEGF-mediated downstream ERK1/2 activation. By developing the first endothelial-specific alpha6-knockout mice, we show that the expression of the alpha6-integrin subunit in endothelial cells acts as a negative regulator of angiogenesis both in vivo and ex vivo.

Copyright 2009 Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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