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Sci Signal. 2013 Jul 2;6(282):ra52. doi: 10.1126/scisignal.2003905.

The basis for the distinct biological activities of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-1 ligands.

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Translational Cancer Biology Program, Biomedicum Helsinki and Helsinki University Central Hospital, University of Helsinki, FIN-00014 Helsinki, Finland.


Vascular endothelial growth factors (VEGFs) regulate blood and lymphatic vessel development through VEGF receptors (VEGFRs). The VEGFR immunoglobulin homology domain 2 (D2) is critical for ligand binding, and D3 provides additional interaction sites. VEGF-B and placenta growth factor (PlGF) bind to VEGFR-1 with high affinity, but only PlGF is angiogenic in most tissues. We show that VEGF-B, unlike other VEGFs, did not require D3 interactions for high-affinity binding. VEGF-B with a PlGF-derived L1 loop (B-L1P) stimulated VEGFR-1 activity, whereas PlGF with a VEGF-B-derived L1 loop (P-L1B) did not. Unlike P-L1B and VEGF-B, B-L1P and PlGF were also angiogenic in mouse skeletal muscle. Furthermore, B-L1P also bound to VEGFR-2 and activated downstream signaling. These results establish a role for L1-mediated D3 interactions in VEGFR activation in endothelial cells and indicate that VEGF-B is a high-affinity VEGFR-1 ligand that, unlike PlGF, cannot efficiently induce signaling downstream of VEGFR-1.

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