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Circ Res. 2006 Oct 13;99(8):853-60. Epub 2006 Sep 28.

Heparin-II domain of fibronectin is a vascular endothelial growth factor-binding domain: enhancement of VEGF biological activity by a singular growth factor/matrix protein synergism.

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Department of Surgery, Division of Vascular Surgery, Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System and the University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, USA.


We describe extracellular interactions between fibronectin (Fn) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) that influence integrin-growth factor receptor crosstalk and cellular responses. In previous work, we found that VEGF bound specifically to fibronectin (Fn) but not vitronectin or collagens. Herein we report that VEGF binds to the heparin-II domain of Fn and that the cell-binding and VEGF-binding domains of Fn, when physically linked, are necessary and sufficient to promote VEGF-induced endothelial cell proliferation, migration, and Erk activation. Using recombinant Fn domains, the C-terminal heparin-II domain of Fn (type III repeats 13 to 14) was identified as a key VEGF-binding site. Mutation of the heparin-binding residues on FnIII(13-14) abolished VEGF binding, and peptides corresponding to the heparin-binding sequences in FnIII(13-14) inhibited VEGF binding to Fn. Fn fragments containing both the alpha5beta1 integrin-binding domain (III 9 to 10) and the VEGF-binding domain (III 13 to 14) significantly enhanced VEGF-induced EC migration and proliferation and induced strong phosphorylation of the VEGF receptor and Erk. Neither the cell-binding or VEGF-binding fragment of Fn alone had comparable VEGF-promoting effects. These results suggest that the mechanism of VEGF/Fn synergism is mediated extracellularly by the formation of a novel VEGF/Fn complex requiring both the cell-binding and VEGF-binding domains linked in a single molecular unit. These data also highlight a new function for the Fn C-terminal heparin-binding domain that may have important implications for angiogenesis and tumor growth.

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