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J Cell Physiol. 1993 Oct;157(1):24-32.

Thrombospondin mediates migration and potentiates platelet-derived growth factor-dependent migration of calf pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells.

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Department of Pathology, University of Michigan School of Medicine, Ann Arbor 48109.


A precipitating factor in the development of atherosclerotic lesions is the inappropriate migration and proliferation of vascular smooth muscle cells (SMC) within the intima of the vessel wall. Focusing on the role of extracellular matrix proteins in SMC migration, we have demonstrated that thrombospondin (TSP) itself is a potent modulator of SMC motility and acts to potentiate platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF)-mediated SMC migration as well. Migration of SMC to TSP was dose dependent. Interestingly, maximal SMC migration to TSP exceeded that to either PDGF or basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF). The distal COOH terminus of TSP was shown to mediate SMC migration as demonstrated by complete inhibition of the response by monoclonal antibody (mAb) C6.7. Nevertheless, proteolytic fragments of TSP were not as potent as intact TSP in mediating SMC migration. Only by combining the heparin-binding domain (HBD) with the 140 kD COOH terminal fragment was SMC migration restored to levels seen with intact TSP. Based on antibody inhibition studies, an alpha v-containing integrin receptor, but not alpha v beta 1 or alpha v beta 3, appeared to be involved in SMC migration to TSP. The coincidental expression of PDGF and TSP at sites of vascular injury and inflammation led us to evaluate the effect of suboptimal levels of TSP on SMC responsiveness to PDGF. SMC migration in response to PDGF was enhanced nearly 60% in the presence of suboptimal concentrations of TSP. This effect was specific for PDGF and dependent on the concentration of TSP with maximal potentiation obtained between 50-100 nM TSP, concentrations tenfold lower than those necessary for SMC migration to TSP itself. mAb C6.7 completely inhibited enhancement but, as with SMC migration to TSP alone, TSP proteolytic fragments did not possess the effectiveness of the intact molecule. Additional experiments assessing SMC migration to PDGF demonstrated that PDGF stimulated SMC motility indirectly by inducing TSP synthesis. These studies suggested that TSP functions as an autocrine motility factor to modulate SMC migration, which in conjunction with PDGF could serve to aggravate and accelerate development of atherosclerotic lesions at sites of vascular injury or inflammation.

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