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J Biol Chem. 1996 Nov 8;271(45):28220-8.

Induction of vascular endothelial growth factor by tumor necrosis factor alpha in human glioma cells. Possible roles of SP-1.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, Kyushu University School of Medicine, Maidashi, Fukuoka 812-82, Japan.


The expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) has been implicated in brain tumor angiogenesis, and the promoter region for the VEGF gene contains several SP-1 and AP-1 (c-Fos and c-Jun) binding motifs. Among eight human glioma cell lines, cellular mRNA levels of transcription factors SP-1 and AP-1 (c-Fos and c-Jun) were found to be closely correlated with those of VEGF. VEGF expression appears to be highly susceptible to hypoxia or exogenous cytokines and growth factors. Of various cytokines and growth factors, basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha), and interleukin 1 most potently enhanced VEGF mRNA levels of a glioma cell line, U251. Incubation of the glioma cells with bFGF or TNF-alpha increased both VEGF and SP-1 mRNA at 30 min and c-Fos mRNA at 1-3 h, over 5-fold. Nuclear run-on assays showed an apparent increase of the transcription of the VEGF gene as well as the SP-1 gene by bFGF or TNF-alpha. Gel mobility shift assays demonstrated that only SP-1 binding activity was increased 1 h after exposure to bFGF or TNF-alpha, and also that AP-1, but not SP-1, activity was significantly activated by hypoxia. Mithramycin, an inhibitor of SP-1, at 1-10 nM inhibited activation of the VEGF gene by bFGF or TNF-alpha but not that by hypoxia. Western blot analysis also demonstrated an increase in cellular amounts of VEGF by TNF-alpha and a decrease by co-administration with mithramycin. The promoter activity of the VEGF gene, which contains five SP-1 binding sites and one AP-1 binding site but not hypoxia regulatory elements, was enhanced by bFGF or TNF-alpha but not by hypoxia. The chloramphenicol acetyltransferase assay with VEGF promoter deletion constructs demonstrated that four clusterized SP-1 binding sites in the proximal promoter were essential for the basal transcription and the TNF-alpha-dependent activation. These data indicated that the expression of the VEGF gene enhanced by bFGF or TNF-alpha appeared to be mediated in part through the transcription factor SP-1, suggesting a different mechanism from that for hypoxia-induced activation of the VEGF gene.

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