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J Biol Chem. 1998 Mar 20;273(12):6599-602.

A recombinant mutant vascular endothelial growth factor-C that has lost vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-2 binding, activation, and vascular permeability activities.

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Molecular/Cancer Biology Laboratory, Haartman Institute, PL 21 Haartmaninkatu 3, University of Helsinki, 00014 Helsinki, Finland.


The vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and the VEGF-C promote growth of blood vessels and lymphatic vessels, respectively. VEGF activates the endothelial VEGF receptors (VEGFR) 1 and 2, and VEGF-C activates VEGFR-3 and VEGFR-2. Both VEGF and VEGF-C are also potent vascular permeability factors. Here we have analyzed the receptor binding and activating properties of several cysteine mutants of VEGF-C including those (Cys156 and Cys165), which in other platelet-derived growth factor/VEGF family members mediate interchain disulfide bonding. Surprisingly, we found that the recombinant mature VEGF-C in which Cys156 was replaced by a Ser residue is a selective agonist of VEGFR-3. This mutant, designated DeltaNDeltaC156S, binds and activates VEGFR-3 but neither binds VEGFR-2 nor activates its autophosphorylation or downstream signaling to the ERK/MAPK pathway. Unlike VEGF-C, DeltaNDeltaC156S neither induces vascular permeability in vivo nor stimulates migration of bovine capillary endothelial cells in culture. These data point out the critical role of VEGFR-2-mediated signal transduction for the vascular permeability activity of VEGF-C and strongly suggest that the redundant biological effects of VEGF and VEGF-C depend on binding and activation of VEGFR-2. The DeltaNDeltaC156S mutant may provide a valuable tool for the analysis of VEGF-C effects mediated selectively via VEGFR-3. The ability of DeltaNDeltaC156S to form homodimers also emphasizes differences in the structural requirements for VEGF and VEGF-C dimerization.

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