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J Cancer Res Clin Oncol. 2012 Mar;138(3):363-70. doi: 10.1007/s00432-011-1073-2. Epub 2011 Nov 2.

VEGF gene alternative splicing: pro- and anti-angiogenic isoforms in cancer.

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Genetics and Molecular Biology Research Unit - UPGEM, Medical School of Sao Jose do Rio Preto - FAMERP, Av. Brigadeiro Faria Lima, 5416, Bloco U6, Sao Jose do Rio Preto, SP 15090-000, Brazil.


Tumor growth and progression depend on angiogenesis, a process of new blood vessels formation from a preexisting vascular endothelium. Tumors promote angiogenesis by secreting or activating angiogenic factors that stimulate endothelial proliferation and migration and capillary morphogenesis. The newly formed blood vessels provide nutrients and oxygen to the tumor, increasing its growth. Thus, angiogenesis plays a key role in cancer progression and development of metastases. An important growth factor that promotes angiogenesis and participates in a variety of physiological and pathological processes is the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF-A or VEGF). Overexpression of VEGF results in increased angiogenesis in normal and pathological conditions. The existence of an alternative site of splicing at the 3' untranslated region of the mRNA results in the expression of isoforms with a C-terminal region which are downregulated in tumors and may have differential inhibitory effects. This suggests that control of splicing can be an important regulatory mechanism of angiogenesis in cancer.

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