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Am J Pathol. 1996 Jul;149(1):293-305.

Stimulation of endothelial cell migration by vascular permeability factor/vascular endothelial growth factor through cooperative mechanisms involving the alphavbeta3 integrin, osteopontin, and thrombin.

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Department of Pathology, Beth Israel Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


We have identified several mechanisms by which the angiogenic cytokine vascular permeability factor/vascular endothelial growth factor (VPF/VEGF) likely regulates endothelial cells (EC) migration. VPF/VEGF induced dermal microvascular EC expression of mRNAs encoding the alphav and beta3 integrin subunits resulting in increased levels of the alphavbeta3 heterodimer at the cell surface, and VPF/VEGF also induced mRNA encoding osteopontin (OPN), an alphavbeta3 ligand. OPN promoted EC migration in vitro; and VPF/VEGF induction of alphavbeta3 was accompanied by increased EC migration toward OPN. Because thrombin cleavage of OPN results in substantial enhancement of OPN's adhesive properties, and because VPF/VEGF promotes increased microvascular permeability leading to activation of the extrinsic coagulation pathway, we also investigated whether VPF/VEGF facilitates thrombin cleavage of OPN in vivo. Consistent with this hypothesis, co-injection of VPF/VEGF together with OPN resulted in rapid cleavage of OPN by endogenous thrombin. Furthermore, in comparison with native OPN, thrombin-cleaved OPN stimulated a greater rate of EC migration in vitro, which was additive to the increased migration associated with induction of alpha v beta 3. Thus, these data demonstrate cooperative mechanisms for VPF/VEGF regulation of EC migration involving the alphavbeta3 integrin, the alphavbeta3 ligand OPN, and thrombin cleavage of OPN. These findings also illustrate an operational link between VPF/VEGF induction of EC gene expression and VPF/VEGF enhancement of microvascular permeability, suggesting that these distinct biological activities may act accordingly to stimulate EC migration during angiogenesis.

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