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Adv Exp Med Biol. 2000;476:109-15.

Signal transduction and transcriptional regulation of angiogenesis.

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Department of Vascular Biology, Tohoku University.


When quiescent endothelial cells (ECs) are exposed to angiogenic factor such as VEGF; ECs express proteases to degrade extracellular matrices, migrate, proliferate and form new vessels. However, the molecular mechanism of these events is not fully characterized yet. We are studying the signal transduction and transcriptional regulation of angiogenesis. We investigated the properties of two VEGF receptors, Flt-1 and KDR, by using two newly developed blocking monoclonal antibodies (mAbs), i.e., anti-human Flt-1 mAb and anti-human KDR mAb. VEGF elicited induction of transcription factor Ets-1 in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs). This induction was mediated by the KDR/Flt-1 heterodimer and the KDR homodimer. The role of transcription factor Ets-1 in angiogenesis was further clarified. We established both high and low Ets-1 expressing EC lines, and compared angiogenic properties of these cell lines with a parental murine EC line, MSS31. The growth rate was almost identical among three cell lines. It appeared that gene expressions of matrix metalloproteinases (MMP-1, MMP-3, and MMP-9) as well as integrin beta 3 were correlated with the level of Ets-1 expression. As a result, the invasiveness was enhanced in high Ets-1 expressing cells and reduced in low Ets-1 expressing cells compared with parental cells, and high Ets-1 expressing cells made more tube-like structures in type 1 collagen gel. These results indicate that Ets-1 is a principle transcription factor converting ECs to the angiogeneic phenotype.

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