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FASEB J. 2012 Aug;26(8):3365-79. doi: 10.1096/fj.11-200154. Epub 2012 May 18.

CCN2/CTGF regulates neovessel formation via targeting structurally conserved cystine knot motifs in multiple angiogenic regulators.

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Program in Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, University of Florida, PO Box 100232, Gainesville, FL 32610, USA.


Blood vessels are formed during development and tissue repair through a plethora of modifiers that coordinate efficient vessel assembly in various cellular settings. Here we used the yeast 2-hybrid approach and demonstrated a broad affinity of connective tissue growth factor (CCN2/CTGF) to C-terminal cystine knot motifs present in key angiogenic regulators Slit3, von Willebrand factor, platelet-derived growth factor-B, and VEGF-A. Biochemical characterization and histological analysis showed close association of CCN2/CTGF with these regulators in murine angiogenesis models: normal retinal development, oxygen-induced retinopathy (OIR), and Lewis lung carcinomas. CCN2/CTGF and Slit3 proteins worked in concert to promote in vitro angiogenesis and downstream Cdc42 activation. A fragment corresponding to the first three modules of CCN2/CTGF retained this broad binding ability and gained a dominant-negative function. Intravitreal injection of this mutant caused a significant reduction in vascular obliteration and retinal neovascularization vs. saline injection in the OIR model. Knocking down CCN2/CTGF expression by short-hairpin RNA or ectopic expression of this mutant greatly decreased tumorigenesis and angiogenesis. These results provided mechanistic insight into the angiogenic action of CCN2/CTGF and demonstrated the therapeutic potential of dominant-negative CCN2/CTGF mutants for antiangiogenesis.

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