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J Biol Chem. 2008 Dec 5;283(49):34250-9. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M806607200. Epub 2008 Oct 15.

Modulation of angiogenesis by a tetrameric tripeptide that antagonizes vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 1.

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Angiogenesis Laboratory and Stem Cell Fate Laboratory, Institute of Genetics and Biophysics "Adriano Buzzati-Traverso", Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR), 80131 Napoli, Italy.


Vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-1 (VEGFR-1, also known as Flt-1) is involved in complex biological processes often associated to severe pathological conditions like cancer, inflammation, and metastasis formation. Consequently, the search for antagonists of Flt-1 has recently gained a growing interest. Here we report the identification of a tetrameric tripeptide from a combinatorial peptide library built using non-natural amino acids, which binds Flt-1 and inhibits in vitro its interaction with placental growth factor (PlGF) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) A and B (IC(50) approximately 10 microm). The peptide is stable in serum for 7 days and prevents both Flt-1 phosphorylation and the capillary-like tube formation of human primary endothelial cells stimulated by PlGF or VEGF-A. Conversely, the identified peptide does not interfere in VEGF-induced VEGFR-2 activation. In vivo, this peptide inhibits VEGF-A- and PlGF-induced neoangiogenesis in the chicken embryo chorioallantoic membrane assay. In contrast, in the cornea, where avascularity is maintained by high levels of expression of the soluble form of Flt-1 receptor (sFlt-1) that prevents the VEGF-A activity, the peptide is able to stimulate corneal mouse neovascularization in physiological condition, as reported previously for others neutralizing anti-Flt-1 molecules. This tetrameric tripeptide represents a new, promising compound for therapeutic approaches in pathologies where Flt-1 activation plays a crucial role.

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