Vascular endothelial growth factor induces expression of connective tissue growth factor via KDR, Flt1, and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase-akt-dependent pathways in retinal vascular cells

K Suzuma, K Naruse, I Suzuma, N Takahara, K Ueki, L P Aiello, G L King
Journal of Biological Chemistry 2000 December 29, 275 (52): 40725-31
Fibroblastic proliferation accompanies many angiogenesis-related retinal and systemic diseases. Since connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) is a potent mitogen for fibrosis, extracellular matrix production, and angiogenesis, we have studied the effects and mechanism by which vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) regulates CTGF gene expression in retinal capillary cells. In our study, VEGF increased CTGF mRNA levels in a time- and concentration-dependent manner in bovine retinal endothelial cells and pericytes, without the need of new protein synthesis and without altering mRNA stability. VEGF activated the tyrosine receptor phosphorylation of KDR and Flt1 and increased the binding of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3-kinase) p85 subunit to KDR and Flt1, both of which could mediate CTGF gene induction. VEGF-induced CTGF expression was mediated primarily by PI3-kinase activation, whereas PKC and ERK pathways made only minimal contributions. Furthermore, overexpression of constitutive active Akt was sufficient to induce CTGF gene expression, and inhibition of Akt activation by overexpressing dominant negative mutant of Akt abolished the VEGF-induced CTGF expression. These data suggest that VEGF can increase CTGF gene expression in bovine retinal capillary cells via KDR or Flt receptors and the activation of PI3-kinase-Akt pathway independently of PKC or Ras-ERK pathway, possibly inducing the fibrosis observed in retinal neovascular diseases.

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