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Microvasc Res. 1999 Nov;58(3):224-37.

Angiopoietin-1 and its receptor Tie-2 participate in the regulation of capillary-like tubule formation and survival of endothelial cells.

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Lombardi Cancer Center, Georgetown University Medical Center, 3970 Reservoir Road, Washington, DC 20007, USA.


Angiopoietin-1 (Ang-1) and its receptor Tie-2, a trans-membrane tyrosine kinase uniquely expressed by endothelial cells, are shown by null mutation studies to be essential to developmental angiogenesis. The phenotypic abnormalities in these knockout animals suggest that Tie-2 signaling is necessary for the maintenance and expansion of the primitive capillary network. We present in vitro evidence indicating that the Ang-1/Tie-2 system participates in the regulation of capillary tubule formation and is necessary for the survival of confluent endothelial cells. Although recombinant Ang-1, which induces Tie-2 phosphorylation, has no effect on the proliferation of endothelial cells, treatment of confluent adult bovine aortic endothelial cells (ABAE) cells grown on collagen gels with Ang-1 (100 ng/ml) causes the cells to migrate into the collagen gel and form capillary-like tubules. The tubule-forming effect of Ang-1 is similar to the effect caused by FGF-2. A soluble form of the Tie-2 extracellular domain, in fivefold molar excess, blocks Ang-1-induced tubule formation. Specific elimination of Tie-2 protein expression in cultured ABAE cells as a result of transfection with an antisense oligonucleotide causes cell death in a dose-dependent manner (IC(50) = 50 nM). The antisense treatment has no effect on cells that do not express Tie-2. Cells treated with antisense oligonucleotide show a sixfold increase in the rate of apoptosis as assessed by in situ end labeling of fragmented DNA. These findings are consistent with the view that Ang-1/Tie-2 signaling is essential for both angiogenesis and endothelial cell survival.

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