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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Aug 10;107(32):14484-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1008256107. Epub 2010 Jul 26.

CXCR4/YY1 inhibition impairs VEGF network and angiogenesis during malignancy.

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Division of Clinical Pathology, Department of General Pathology, School of Medicine, Second University of Naples, 80138 Naples, Italy.


Tumor growth requires neoangiogenesis. VEGF is the most potent proangiogenic factor. Dysregulation of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) or cytokine stimuli such as those involving the chemokine receptor 4/stromal-derived cell factor 1 (CXCR4/SDF-1) axis are the major cause of ectopic overexpression of VEGF in tumors. Although the CXCR4/SDF-1 pathway is well characterized, the transcription factors executing the effector function of this signaling are poorly understood. The multifunctional Yin Yang 1 (YY1) protein is highly expressed in different types of cancers and may regulate some cancer-related genes. The network involving CXCR4/YY1 and neoangiogenesis could play a major role in cancer progression. In this study we have shown that YY1 forms an active complex with HIF-1alpha at VEGF gene promoters and increases VEGF transcription and expression observed by RT-PCR, ELISA, and Western blot using two different antibodies against VEGFB. Long-term treatment with T22 peptide (a CXCR4/SDF-1 inhibitor) and YY1 silencing can reduce in vivo systemic neoangiogenesis (P < 0.01 and P < 0.05 vs. control, respectively) during metastasis. Moreover, using an in vitro angiogenesis assay, we observed that YY1 silencing led to a 60% reduction in branches (P < 0.01) and tube length (P < 0.02) and a 75% reduction in tube area (P < 0.001) compared with control cells. A similar reduction was observed using T22 peptide. We demonstrated that T22 peptide determines YY1 cytoplasmic accumulation by reducing its phosphorylation via down-regulation of AKT, identifying a crosstalk mechanism involving CXCR4/YY1. Thus, YY1 may represent a crucial molecular target for antiangiogenic therapy during cancer progression.

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