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Sci Signal. 2013 Apr 16;6(271):ra25. doi: 10.1126/scisignal.2003572.

Phosphoproteomic analysis implicates the mTORC2-FoxO1 axis in VEGF signaling and feedback activation of receptor tyrosine kinases.

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Genentech Inc., 1 DNA Way, South San Francisco, CA 94080, USA.


The vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) signaling pathway plays a pivotal role in normal development and also represents a major therapeutic target for tumors and intraocular neovascular disorders. The VEGF receptor tyrosine kinases promote angiogenesis by phosphorylating downstream proteins in endothelial cells. We applied a large-scale proteomic approach to define the VEGF-regulated phosphoproteome and its temporal dynamics in human umbilical vein endothelial cells and then used siRNA (small interfering RNA) screens to investigate the function of a subset of these phosphorylated proteins in VEGF responses. The PI3K (phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase)-mTORC2 (mammalian target of rapamycin complex 2) axis emerged as central in activating VEGF-regulated phosphorylation and increasing endothelial cell viability by suppressing the activity of the transcription factor FoxO1 (forkhead box protein O1), an effect that limited cellular apoptosis and feedback activation of receptor tyrosine kinases. This FoxO1-mediated feedback loop not only reduced the effectiveness of mTOR inhibitors at decreasing protein phosphorylation and cell survival but also rendered cells more susceptible to PI3K inhibition. Collectively, our study provides a global and dynamic view of VEGF-regulated phosphorylation events and implicates the mTORC2-FoxO1 axis in VEGF receptor signaling and reprogramming of receptor tyrosine kinases in human endothelial cells.

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