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J Clin Invest. 2012 Dec;122(12):4424-38. doi: 10.1172/JCI64537. Epub 2012 Nov 26.

Endothelial epsin deficiency decreases tumor growth by enhancing VEGF signaling.

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Cardiovascular Biology Program, Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73104, USA.


Epsins are a family of ubiquitin-binding, endocytic clathrin adaptors. Mice lacking both epsins 1 and 2 (Epn1/2) die at embryonic day 10 and exhibit an abnormal vascular phenotype. To examine the angiogenic role of endothelial epsins, we generated mice with constitutive or inducible deletion of Epn1/2 in vascular endothelium. These mice exhibited no abnormal phenotypes under normal conditions, suggesting that lack of endothelial epsins 1 and 2 did not affect normal blood vessels. In tumors, however, loss of epsins 1 and 2 resulted in disorganized vasculature, significantly increased vascular permeability, and markedly retarded tumor growth. Mechanistically, we show that VEGF promoted binding of epsin to ubiquitinated VEGFR2. Loss of epsins 1 and 2 specifically impaired endocytosis and degradation of VEGFR2, which resulted in excessive VEGF signaling that compromised tumor vascular function by exacerbating nonproductive leaky angiogenesis. This suggests that tumor vasculature requires a balance in VEGF signaling to provide sufficient productive angiogenesis for tumor development and that endothelial epsins 1 and 2 negatively regulate the output of VEGF signaling. Promotion of excessive VEGF signaling within tumors via a block of epsin 1 and 2 function may represent a strategy to prevent normal angiogenesis in cancer patients who are resistant to anti-VEGF therapies.

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