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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1996 Mar 5;93(5):1988-92.

Vascular endothelial growth factor-related protein: a ligand and specific activator of the tyrosine kinase receptor Flt4.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Biology, Genetech, Inc., South San Francisco, CA 94080, USA.


The tyrosine kinases Flt4, Flt1, and Flk1 (or KDR) constitute a family of endothelial cell-specific receptors with seven immunoglobulin-like domains and a split kinase domain. Flt1 and Flk1 have been shown to play key roles in vascular development; these two receptors bind and are activated by vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). No ligand has been identified for Flt4, whose expression becomes restricted during development to the lymphatic endothelium. We have identified cDNA clones from a human glioma cell line that encode a secreted protein with 32% amino acid identity to VEGF. This protein, designated VEGF-related protein (VRP), specifically binds to the extracellular domain of Flt4, stimulates the tyrosine phosphorylation of Flt4 expressed in mammalian cells, and promotes the mitogenesis of human lung endothelial cells. VRP fails to bind appreciably to the extracellular domain of Flt1 or Flk1. The protein contains a C-terminal, cysteine-rich region of about 180 amino acids that is not found in VEGF. A 2.4-kb VRP mRNA is found in several human tissues including adult heart, placenta, ovary, and small intestine and in fetal lung and kidney.

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