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J Biol Chem. 2002 Nov 29;277(48):46791-8. Epub 2002 Sep 19.

KDR stimulates endothelial cell migration through heterotrimeric G protein Gq/11-mediated activation of a small GTPase RhoA.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, USA.


Vascular permeability factor/vascular endothelial growth factor (VPF/VEGF) functions by activating two receptor tyrosine kinases, Flt-1 (VEGFR-1) and KDR (VEGFR-2), both of which are selectively expressed on the primary vascular endothelium. KDR is responsible for VPF/VEGF-stimulated endothelial cell (EC) proliferation and migration, whereas Flt-1 down-modulates KDR-mediated EC proliferation. Flt-1 mediates down-regulation of EC proliferation through pertussis toxin-sensitive G proteins, betagamma subunits, small GTPase CDC42, and partly by Rac-1. However, the molecular mechanism by which KDR mediates EC migration is not clear yet. Here we show for the first time that activation of RhoA and Rac1 is fully and partially required for KDR-mediated human umbilical vein endothelial cell (HUVEC) migration, respectively, and that CDC42, however, is not involved. Furthermore, overexpression of the RhoA dominant negative mutant RhoA-19N does not affect VPF/VEGF-stimulated KDR phosphorylation, intracellular Ca(2+) mobilization, and mitogen-activated protein kinase phosphorylation. Utilizing the receptor chimeras (EGDR and EGLT) in which the extracellular domain of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) was fused to the transmembrane domain and the intracellular domains of KDR and Flt-1, respectively, we demonstrate that RhoA activation is mediated by EGDR, not by EGLT, and that EGDR mediates activation of Rac1, not CDC42. Furthermore, the EGDR-mediated RhoA and Rac1 activation is regulated by G proteins Gq/11, Gbetagamma, and phospholipase C independent of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase and intracellular Ca(2+) mobilization. Interestingly, the RhoA activation can be partially inhibited by overexpression of Rac1-17N, but overexpression of RhoA-19N has no effect on Rac1 activation. Finally, Gq/11 and Gbetagamma subunits are also required for VPF/VEGF-stimulated HUVEC migration. Taken together, our results indicate that KDR stimulates endothelial cell migration through a heterotrimeric G protein Gq/11 and Gbetagamma-mediated RhoA pathway.

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