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FEBS J. 2014 Oct;281(19):4479-94. doi: 10.1111/febs.12956. Epub 2014 Sep 1.

Development of a highly-potent anti-angiogenic VEGF8-109 heterodimer by directed blocking of its VEGFR-2 binding site.

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Department of Biology, Faculty of Sciences, University of Guilan, Rasht, Iran.


Angiogenesis is a hallmark of various pathological conditions and is controlled by a variety of angiogenic factors. Blockade of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) as the most pivotal stimulator of angiogenesis offers a promising therapeutic approach for some diseases, typically cancer. In the present study, a heterodimeric antagonistic VEGF was precisely designed based on structural information of recently-crystallized VEGF/VEGF receptor-2 (VEGFR-2/fetal liver kinase 1/kinase domain region) complex. Directed blocking of kinase domain region occurs via substitution of a VEGF receptor binding site by two peptide segments in one pole, whereas the binding domain of the other pole of VEGF was intact. Candidate peptides for substitution were selected considering to some sequence and structural criteria. A reliable model of modified VEGF was built, refined using molecular dynamics simulation and docked with VEGFR-2. Docking analysis revealed that binding affinity of mutant VEGF was notably diminished, corroborating our design. Heterodimeric VEGF was expressed, refolded and highly purified by two-step affinity chromatography. Dimerization of this antagonist was confirmed using some analytical techniques. Spectroscopic studies assured us to obtain the heterodimeric form of VEGF. Some angiogenic in vitro assays such endothelial cell proliferation and tube formation indicated that this antagonist is not only strongly capable of inhibiting angiogenesis (half maximal inhibitory concentration of 33 and 24 ng · mL(-1) , respectively), but also showed the highest inhibitory effect compared to all other heterodimeric VEGF variants. The high anti-angiogenic potency of this VEGF antagonist may allow its future use as an anti-tumor agent.


VEGF antagonist; VEGF receptor-2; angiogenesis; heterodimeric VEGF; vascular endothelial growth factor

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