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Mol Pharmacol. 2010 Mar;77(3):435-42. doi: 10.1124/mol.109.060400. Epub 2009 Dec 17.

Phosphatidylinositol 3,4,5-triphosphate-dependent Rac exchanger 1 (P-Rex-1), a guanine nucleotide exchange factor for Rac, mediates angiogenic responses to stromal cell-derived factor-1/chemokine stromal cell derived factor-1 (SDF-1/CXCL-12) linked to Rac activation, endothelial cell migration, and in vitro angiogenesis.

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Department of Pharmacology, Center for Research and Advanced Studies of the National Polytechnic Institute (CINVESTAV-IPN), México, D.F. 14740 México.


Stromal cell-derived factor-1 (SDF-1/CXCL-12) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which can be secreted by hypoxic tumors, promote the generation of new blood vessels. These potent angiogenic factors stimulate endothelial cell migration via the activation of Rho GTPases and the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/AKT signaling pathway. Thus, characterization of guanine nucleotide exchange factors critical in the angiogenic signaling cascades offers the possibility of identifying novel molecular targets. We demonstrated previously that mammalian target of rapamycin, an important effector and regulator of PI3K/AKT, activates phosphatidylinositol 3,4,5-triphosphate-dependent Rac exchanger 1 (P-Rex1), a Rac guanine nucleotide exchange factor identified as a target of G betagamma and PI3K, via direct interactions. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that P-Rex1 is involved in the angiogenic responses elicited by SDF-1 and VEGF. Using a knockdown approach, we demonstrate that P-Rex1 is indeed required for SDF-1 promoted signaling pathway, because there is decreased Rac activation, cell migration, and in vitro angiogenesis in P-Rex1 knockdown cells stimulated with SDF-1. In contrast, P-Rex1 knockdown does not affect responses to VEGF, and signaling to extracellular signal-regulated kinase in response to either angiogenic factor is not sensitive to P-Rex1 knockdown. We also demonstrate that in endothelial cells, VEGF promotes an increase in the expression of endogenous P-Rex1 and the SDF-1 receptor CXCR4, In addition, VEGF-pretreated cells show an increased migratory and angiogenic response to SDF-1, suggesting that VEGF stimulation can complement SDF-1/CXCR4 signaling to induce angiogenesis. We conclude that P-Rex1 is a key element in SDF-1-induced angiogenic responses and a potential target for therapeutic intervention.

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