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J Biol Chem. 2009 Mar 6;284(10):6038-42. doi: 10.1074/jbc.C800207200. Epub 2008 Dec 26.

CXCL8/IL8 stimulates vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) expression and the autocrine activation of VEGFR2 in endothelial cells by activating NFkappaB through the CBM (Carma3/Bcl10/Malt1) complex.

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Oral and Pharyngeal Cancer Branch, NIDCR, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892-4340, USA.


Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a potent mitogen and permeability factor for endothelial cells that plays a central role in angiogenesis, vascular maintenance, inflammation, and cancer. VEGF also mediates the homeostatic adaptation to hypoxic conditions by promoting an increase in vascular density to compensate for decreased oxygenation. This process is triggered by an oxygen-sensitive transcription factor, hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF1alpha), which becomes active in hypoxic tissues, leading to the synthesis and secretion of VEGF. The role of HIF1alpha in other processes that involve angiogenesis such as in inflammation is less clear. Of interest, endothelial cells not only respond to but also store and secrete VEGF, which is required for the maintenance of the integrity of the vascular system. How this intracellular pool of VEGF is regulated is still not understood. Here, we found that CXCL8/IL8, a potent proangiogenic and inflammatory chemokine, up-regulates VEGF mRNA and protein levels in endothelial cells by acting on its cognate receptor, CXCR2, and that this results in the autocrine activation of VEGFR2. Surprisingly, this process does not involve HIF1alpha but instead requires the activation of the transcription factor NFkappaB. Furthermore, we identified the components of the CBM complex, Carma3, Bcl10, and Malt1, as key mediators of the CXCL8/IL8-induced NFkappaB activation and VEGF up-regulation. Together, these findings support the existence of an NFkappaB-mediated pathway by which the proinflammatory chemokine CXCL8/IL8 controls the expression of VEGF in endothelial cells, thereby promoting the activation of VEGF receptors in an autocrine fashion.

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