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J Cell Biol. 2002 Jan 7;156(1):149-60. Epub 2002 Jan 7.

p38 MAP kinase negatively regulates endothelial cell survival, proliferation, and differentiation in FGF-2-stimulated angiogenesis.

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Department of Genetics and Pathology, Rudbeck Laboratory, Uppsala University, Uppsala, S-751 85, Sweden.


The p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (p38) is activated in response to environmental stress and inflammatory cytokines. Although several growth factors, including fibroblast growth factor (FGF)-2, mediate activation of p38, the consequences for growth factor-dependent cellular functions have not been well defined. We investigated the role of p38 activation in FGF-2-induced angiogenesis. In collagen gel cultures, bovine capillary endothelial cells formed tubular growth-arrested structures in response to FGF-2. In these collagen gel cultures, p38 activation was induced more potently by FGF-2 treatment compared with that in proliferating cultures. Treatment with the p38 inhibitor SB202190 enhanced FGF-2-induced tubular morphogenesis by decreasing apoptosis, increasing DNA synthesis and cell proliferation, and enhancing the kinetics of cell differentiation including increased expression of the Notch ligand Jagged1. Overexpression of dominant negative mutants of the p38-activating kinases MKK3 and MKK6 also supported FGF-2-induced tubular morphogenesis. Sustained activation of p38 by FGF-2 was identified in vascular endothelial cells in vivo in the chick chorioallantoic membrane (CAM). SB202190 treatment enhanced FGF-2-induced neovascularization in the CAM, but the vessels displayed abnormal features indicative of hyperplasia of endothelial cells. These results implicate p38 in organization of new vessels and suggest that p38 is an essential regulator of FGF-2-driven angiogenesis.

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