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Circ Res. 1999 Nov 26;85(11):992-9.

Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and VEGF-C show overlapping binding sites in embryonic endothelia and distinct sites in differentiated adult endothelia.

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Molecular/Cancer Biology Laboratory, Haartman Institute, University of Helsinki, Finland.


Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a key modulator of angiogenesis during development and in adult tissues, whereas the related VEGF-C has been shown to induce both lymphangiogenesis and angiogenesis. To better understand the specific functions of these growth factors, we have here analyzed their binding to sections of mouse embryonic and adult tissues and compared the distribution of the bound growth factors with the expression patterns of the 3 known members of the VEGF receptor family as well as with neuropilin-1, a coreceptor for VEGF(165). Partially overlapping patterns of VEGF and VEGF-C binding were obtained in embryonic tissues, consistent with the expression of all known VEGF receptors by vascular endothelial cells. However, the most striking differences of binding were observed in the developing and adult heart, in which VEGF decorated all vessels, whereas strong VEGF-C signals were obtained only from epicardial vessels. In the lymph nodes, VEGF and VEGF-C showed distinct binding patterns in agreement with the differential location of their specific receptors. These results show that both VEGF-C and VEGF target embryonic blood vessels, whereas a more selective binding of VEGF-C occurs to its lymphatic vascular receptor in certain adult tissues. Our results suggest that VEGF and VEGF-C have both overlapping and distinct activities via their endothelial receptors.

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