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Oncogene. 2007 Nov 22;26(53):7480-9. Epub 2007 Jun 11.

HIF-2alpha specifically activates the VE-cadherin promoter independently of hypoxia and in synergy with Ets-1 through two essential ETS-binding sites.

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CNRS, UMR8161, Lille France; Univ Lille I, Lille, France; Univ Lille II, Lille, France; Inst Pasteur de Lille, Lille, France.


The mechanisms that are responsible for the restricted pattern of expression of the VE-cadherin gene in endothelial cells are not clearly understood. Regulation of expression is under the control of an approximately 140 bp proximal promoter that provides basal, non-endothelial specific expression. A larger region contained within the 2.5 kb genomic DNA sequence located ahead of the transcription start is involved in the specific expression of the gene in endothelial cells. We show here that the VE-cadherin promoter contains several putative hypoxia response elements (HRE) which are able to bind endothelial nuclear factors under normoxia. The VE-cadherin gene is not responsive to hypoxia but hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-2alpha specifically activates the promoter while HIF-1alpha does not. The HRE, that are involved in this activity have been identified. Further, we show that HIF-2alpha cooperates with the Ets-1 transcription factor for activation of the VE-cadherin promoter and that this synergy is dependent on the binding of Ets-1 to DNA. This cooperative action of HIF-2alpha with Ets-1 most probably participates to the transcriptional regulation of expression of the gene in endothelial cells. This mechanism may also be involved in the expression of the VE-cadherin gene by tumor cells in the process of vascular mimicry.

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