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J Biochem Mol Biol. 2006 Sep 30;39(5):469-78.

Differential roles of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-1 and receptor-2 in angiogenesis.

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  • 1Division of Genetics, Institute of Medical Science, University of Tokyo, Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-8639, Japan.


Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-A, a major regulator for angiogenesis, binds and activates two tyrosine kinase receptors, VEGFR1 (Flt-1) and VEGFR2 (KDR/Flk-1). These receptors regulate physiological as well as pathological angiogenesis. VEGFR2 has strong tyrosine kinase activity, and transduces the major signals for angiogenesis. However, unlike other representative tyrosine kinase receptors which use the Ras pathway, VEGFR2 mostly uses the Phospholipase-Cgamma-Protein kinase-C pathway to activate MAP-kinase and DNA synthesis. VEGFR2 is a direct signal transducer for pathological angiogenesis including cancer and diabetic retinopathy, thus, VEGFR2 itself and the signaling appear to be critical targets for the suppression of these diseases. VEGFR1 plays dual role, a negative role in angiogenesis in the embryo most likely by trapping VEGF-A, and a positive role in adulthood in a tyrosine kinase-dependent manner. VEGFR1 is expressed not only in endothelial cells but also in macrophage-lineage cells, and promotes tumor growth, metastasis, and inflammation. Furthermore, a soluble form of VEGFR1 was found to be present at abnormally high levels in the serum of preeclampsia patients, and induces proteinurea and renal dysfunction. Therefore, VEGFR1 is also an important target in the treatment of human diseases. Recently, the VEGFR2-specific ligand VEGF-E (Orf-VEGF) was extensively characterized. Interestingly, the activation of VEGFR2 via VEGF-E in vivo results in a strong angiogenic response in mice with minor side effects such as inflammation compared with VEGF-A, suggesting VEGF-E to be a novel material for pro-angiogenic therapy.

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