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Blood. 2007 Oct 1;110(7):2440-8. Epub 2007 May 29.

Endothelial progenitor cell derived microvesicles activate an angiogenic program in endothelial cells by a horizontal transfer of mRNA.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Research Center for Experimental Medicine (CeRMS) and Center for Molecular Biotechnology, Torino, Italy.


Membrane-derived microvesicles (MVs) are released from the cell surface and are implicated in cell-to-cell communication. We evaluated whether MVs derived from endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) are able to trigger angiogenesis. We found that EPC-derived MVs were incorporated in endothelial cells by interaction with alpha4 and beta1 integrins expressed on the MV surface. In vitro, MVs promoted endothelial cell survival, proliferation, and organization in capillary-like structures. In vivo, in severe combined immunodeficient (SCID) mice, MV-stimulated human endothelial cells organized in patent vessels. When incubated with RNase, despite their internalization into endothelial cells, MVs failed to induce in vitro and in vivo angiogenic effects. mRNA transfer was shown by transduction of GFP protein in endothelial cells by MVs containing GFP-mRNA and the biologic relevance by the angiogenic effect of MV-mRNA extract delivered by lipofectamine. Microarray ana-lysis and quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) of MV-mRNA extract indicated that MVs were shuttling a specific subset of cellular mRNA, such as mRNA associated with the PI3K/AKT signaling pathway. Protein expression and functional studies showed that PI3K and eNOS play a critical role in the angiogenic effect of MVs. These results suggest that EPCs may activate angiogenesis in endothelial cells by releasing MVs able to trigger an angiogenic program.

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