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Angiogenesis. 2011 Dec;14(4):533-44. doi: 10.1007/s10456-011-9238-9. Epub 2011 Nov 2.

Reduced pathological angiogenesis and tumor growth in mice lacking GPR4, a proton sensing receptor.

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Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, Forum 1 Novartis Campus, CH-4056, Basel, Switzerland.


The G protein-coupled receptor GPR4 is activated by acidic pH and recent evidence indicates that it is expressed in endothelial cells. In agreement with these reports, we observe a high correlation of GPR4 mRNA expression with endothelial marker genes, and we confirm expression and acidic pH dependent function of GPR4 in primary human vascular endothelial cells. GPR4-deficient mice were generated; these are viable and fertile and show no gross abnormalities. However, these animals show a significantly reduced angiogenic response to VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor), but not to bFGF (basic fibroblast growth factor), in a growth factor implant model. Accordingly, in two different orthotopic models, tumor growth is strongly reduced in mice lacking GPR4. Histological analysis of tumors indicates reduced tumor cell proliferation as well as altered vessel morphology, length and density. Moreover, GPR4 deficiency results in reduced VEGFR2 (VEGF Receptor 2) levels in endothelial cells, accounting, at least in part, for the observed phenotype. Our data suggest that endothelial cells sense local tissue acidosis via GPR4 and that this signal is required to generate a full angiogenic response to VEGF.

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