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FASEB J. 1999 Jan;13(1):9-22.

Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and its receptors.

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Department of Biology, Technion, Israel Institute of Technology, Technion City, Haifa 32000, Israel.


Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a highly specific mitogen for vascular endothelial cells. Five VEGF isoforms are generated as a result of alternative splicing from a single VEGF gene. These isoforms differ in their molecular mass and in biological properties such as their ability to bind to cell-surface heparan-sulfate proteoglycans. The expression of VEGF is potentiated in response to hypoxia, by activated oncogenes, and by a variety of cytokines. VEGF induces endothelial cell proliferation, promotes cell migration, and inhibits apoptosis. In vivo VEGF induces angiogenesis as well as permeabilization of blood vessels, and plays a central role in the regulation of vasculogenesis. Deregulated VEGF expression contributes to the development of solid tumors by promoting tumor angiogenesis and to the etiology of several additional diseases that are characterized by abnormal angiogenesis. Consequently, inhibition of VEGF signaling abrogates the development of a wide variety of tumors. The various VEGF forms bind to two tyrosine-kinase receptors, VEGFR-1 (flt-1) and VEGFR-2 (KDR/flk-1), which are expressed almost exclusively in endothelial cells. Endothelial cells express in addition the neuropilin-1 and neuropilin-2 coreceptors, which bind selectively to the 165 amino acid form of VEGF (VEGF165). This review focuses on recent developments that have widened considerably our understanding of the mechanisms that control VEGF production and VEGF signal transduction and on recent studies that have shed light on the mechanisms by which VEGF regulates angiogenesis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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