Modulation of VEGFR-2-mediated endothelial-cell activity by VEGF-C/VEGFR-3

Kazuyoshi Matsumura, Masanori Hirashima, Minetaro Ogawa, Hajime Kubo, Hiroshi Hisatsune, Nobuyuki Kondo, Satomi Nishikawa, Tsutomu Chiba, Shin-Ichi Nishikawa
Blood 2003 February 15, 101 (4): 1367-74
Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) receptor 3 (VEGFR-3), a receptor for VEGF-C, was shown to be essential for angiogenesis as well as for lymphangiogenesis. Targeted disruption of the VEGFR-3 gene in mice and our previous study using an antagonistic monoclonal antibody (MoAb) for VEGFR-3 suggested that VEGF-C/VEGFR-3 signals might be involved in the maintenance of vascular integrity. In this study we used an in vitro embryonic stem (ES) cell culture system to maintain the VEGFR-3(+) endothelial cell (EC) and investigated the role of VEGFR-3 signals at the cellular level. In this system packed clusters of ECs were formed. Whereas addition of exogenous VEGF-A induced EC dispersion, VEGF-C, which can also stimulate VEGFR-2, promoted EC growth without disturbing the EC clusters. Moreover, addition of AFL4, an antagonistic MoAb for VEGFR-3, resulted in EC dispersion. Cytological analysis showed that VEGF-A- and AFL4-treated ECs were indistinguishable in many aspects but were distinct from the cytological profile induced by antagonistic MoAb for VE-cadherin (VECD-1). As AFL4- induced EC dispersion requires VEGF-A stimulation, it is likely that VEGFR-3 signals negatively modulate VEGFR-2. This result provides new insights into the involvement of VEGFR-3 signals in the maintenance of vascular integrity through modulation of VEGFR-2 signals. Moreover, our findings suggest that the mechanisms underlying AFL4-induced EC dispersion are distinct from those underlying VECD-1-induced dispersion for maintenance of EC integrity.

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