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J Biol Chem. 2004 Feb 6;279(6):4862-8. Epub 2003 Nov 10.

The homeobox transcription factor Hox D3 promotes integrin alpha5beta1 expression and function during angiogenesis.

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Department of Surgery, University of California, San Francisco, California 94143, USA.


Neovascularization promotes wound healing, tumor growth, and arthritis. Endothelial cell migration and survival during neovascularization are regulated by adhesion proteins, including integrin alpha5beta1. Integrin alpha5beta1 is poorly expressed on normal quiescent blood vessels, but its expression is induced on tumor blood vessels and in response to angiogenic factors such as basic fibroblast growth factor, interleukin-8, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, and the angiomatrix protein Del-1. We show here that alpha5beta1 expression, and hence function, during angiogenesis is regulated by the transcription factor Hox D3, a homeobox gene that also controls the expression of endothelial cell integrin alphavbeta3 and urokinase-type plasminogen activator. Hox D3 expression in endothelial cells enhances integrin alpha5 protein and message expression, whereas Hox D3 antisense inhibits its expression. Hox D3 promotes alpha5 expression during angiogenesis in vivo, whereas inhibition of alpha5 expression by Hox D3 antisense suppresses angiogenesis. Hox D3 binds directly to the promoters of the integrin alpha5 and beta3 subunits, inducing subunit expression. As Hox D3, integrin alphavbeta3, and integrin alpha5beta1 are expressed on tumor blood vessels but not on normal quiescent vessels, these studies suggest that Hox D3 coordinately regulates the expression of integrin alpha5beta1 and integrin alphavbeta3 during angiogenesis in vivo. These studies also suggest that Hox D3 inhibition could be a useful approach to inhibit tumor angiogenesis.

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