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PloS one

VEGFR2 translocates to the nucleus to regulate its own transcription.


PMID 21980525

Abstract

Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Receptor-2 (VEGFR2) is the major mediator of the angiogenic effects of VEGF. In addition to its well known role as a membrane receptor that activates multiple signaling pathways, VEGFR2 also has a nuclear localization. However, what VEGFR2 does in the nucleus is still unknown. In the present report we show that, in endothelial cells, nuclear VEGFR2 interacts with several nuclear proteins, including the Sp1, a transcription factor that has been implicated in the regulation of genes needed for angiogenesis. By in vivo chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays, we found that VEGFR2 binds to the Sp1-responsive region of the VEGFR2 proximal promoter. These results were confirmed by EMSA assays, using the same region of the VEGFR2 promoter. Importantly, we show that the VEGFR2 DNA binding is directly linked to the transcriptional activation of the VEGFR2 promoter. By reporter assays, we found that the region between -300/-116 relative to the transcription start site is essential to confer VEGFR2-dependent transcriptional activity. It was previously described that nuclear translocation of the VEGFR2 is dependent on its activation by VEGF. In agreement, we observed that the binding of VEGFR2 to DNA requires VEGF activation, being blocked by Bevacizumab and Sunitinib, two anti-angiogenic agents that inhibit VEGFR2 activation. Our findings demonstrate a new mechanism by which VEGFR2 activates its own promoter that could be involved in amplifying the angiogenic response.