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FASEB J. 2001 Jan;15(1):230-242.

Specificity, diversity, and convergence in VEGF and TNF-alpha signaling events leading to tissue factor up-regulation via EGR-1 in endothelial cells.

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Department of Vascular Biology and Thrombosis Research, VIRCC, University of Vienna, A-1235 Vienna, Austria.


Tissue factor (TF) has been shown to be up-regulated in endothelial cells by the inflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) as well as by the main angiogenic factor VEGF. Since both stimuli induce the transcription factor EGR-1, which is critically involved in TF gene regulation, we used EGR-1-dependent TF induction as a model to identify potential cross-talks between the various signal transduction cascades initiated by VEGF and TNF-alpha. The data show that at the MAP kinase level, VEGF mainly activates ERK1/2 and p38 MAP kinases in human endothelial cells. TNF-alpha is able to activate all three MAP kinase cascades as well as the classical inflammatory IkappaB/NFkappaB pathway. Furthermore, the MEK/ERK module of MAP kinases appears to act as the convergence point of VEGF- and TNF-alpha-initiated signaling cascades, which lead to the activation of EGR-1 and subsequent TF expression, whereas the upstream signals are distinct. We found that induction of TF by VEGF via EGR-1 is strongly PKC dependent. The TNF-alpha-initiated MEK/ERK cascade connected to EGR-1 and TF expression is clearly less sensitive to PKC inhibition. TNF-alpha-mediated activation of MEK/ERK and EGR-1 can be blocked by adenoviral expression of a dominant negative mutant of IKK2, whereas the VEGF signaling pathway is unaffected. Thus, our data demonstrate a new link between the classical inflammatory IKK/IkappaB and the MEK/ERK cascades triggered by TNF-alpha. The additional finding that EGF induces ERK and EGR-1 in a PKC-independent manner and that this signal is not sufficient to up-regulate TF emphasizes the importance of a VEGF-specific signaling pattern for the induction of TF.

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