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J Clin Invest. 1990 Aug;86(2):670-4.

Oxygen tension regulates the expression of the platelet-derived growth factor-B chain gene in human endothelial cells.

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Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA 02115.


Hypoxic states are associated with abnormal proliferation and constriction of the smooth muscle cells surrounding the distal vessels of the lung. In hypoxic as well as in normal states, the endothelial cell layer may play a key role in controlling smooth muscle tone by secreting a number of vasoactive agents. Platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), produced by endothelial cells, is a major growth factor for vascular smooth muscle cells and a powerful vasoconstrictor. It consists of a disulfide-linked dimer of two related peptides, A and B, that are products of two different genes. We found that hypoxic conditions (0-3% oxygen environments) significantly increased PDGF-B mRNA in cultured human umbilical vein endothelial cells by enhancing the transcriptional rate of this gene. This increase was inversely proportional to oxygen tension and was reversible upon reexposure of cells to a 21% oxygen atmosphere. mRNA levels of PDGF-A were not affected nor was the overall rate of cellular gene transcription increased in response to hypoxia. These studies indicate that endothelial cells are not only capable of sensing oxygen tension, but are also able to discriminate and respond to even small differences in oxygen tension resulting in dramatic upregulation of the PDGF-B chain gene.

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