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Cell Biochem Biophys. 2011 Jan;59(1):39-47. doi: 10.1007/s12013-010-9109-9.

Gene expression of neuropilin-1 and its receptors, VEGF/Semaphorin 3a, in normal and cancer cells.

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  • 1Department of Geriatric Neurology, The First Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing Medical University, No.300 Guangzhou Street, Nanjing, Jiangsu Province 210029, People's Republic of China.


Extracellular domains of the transmembrane glycoprotein, neuropilin-1 (Np1), specifically bind an array of factors and co-receptors including class-3 semaphorins (Sema3a), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), hepatocyte growth factor, platelet-derived growth factor BB, transforming growth factor-β 1 (TGF-β1), and fibroblast growth factor2 (FGF2). Np1 may have a role in immune response, tumor cell growth, and angiogenesis, but its relative expression in comparison to its co-primary receptors, VEGF and Sema3a, is not known. In this study we determined the mRNA expression of Np1 and its co-receptors, VEGF and Sema3a, and the ratio of VEGF/Sema3a in different human and rodent cell lines. Expression of Np1, VEGF and Sema3a is very low in cells derived from normal tissues, but these proteins are highly expressed in tumor-derived cells. Furthermore, the ratio of VEGF/Sema3a is highly variable in different tumor cells. The elevated mRNA expression of Np1 and its putative receptors in tumor cells suggests a role for these proteins in tumor cell migration and angiogenesis. As different tumor cells exhibit varying VEGF/Sema3a ratios, it appears that cancer cells show differential response to angiogenic factors. These results bring to light the individual variation among the cancer-related genes, Np1, VEGF, and Sema3a, and provide an important impetus for the possible personalized therapeutic approaches for cancer patients.

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