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PloS one

The transcription factor MEF2C negatively controls angiogenic sprouting of endothelial cells depending on oxygen.


PMID 24988463

Abstract

The MADS box transcription factor MEF2C has been detected by us to be upregulated by the angiogenic factors VEGF-A and bFGF in endothelial cells. We have here investigated its potential role for angiogenesis. MEF2C was surprisingly found to strongly inhibit angiogenic sprouting, whereas a dominant negative mutant rather induced sprouting. The factor mainly affected migratory processes of endothelial cells, but not proliferation. In gene profiling experiments we delineated the alpha-2-macroglobulin gene to be highly upregulated by MEF2C. Further data confirmed that MEF2C in endothelial cells indeed induces alpha-2-macroglobulin mRNA as well as the secretion of alpha-2-macroglobulin and that conditioned supernatants of cells overexpressing MEF2C inhibit sprouting. Alpha-2-macroglobulin mediates, at least to a large extent, the inhibitory effects of MEF2C as is shown by knockdown of alpha-2-macroglobulin mRNA by lentiviral shRNA expression which reduces the inhibitory effect. However, under hypoxic conditions the VEGF-A/bFGF-mediated upregulation of MEF2C is reduced and the production of alpha-2-macroglobulin largely abolished. Taken together, this suggests that the MEF2C/alpha-2-macroglobulin axis functions in endothelial cells as a negative feed-back mechanism that adapts sprouting activity to the oxygen concentration thus diminishing inappropriate and excess angiogenesis.