Pathological lymphangiogenesis is modulated by galectin-8-dependent crosstalk between podoplanin and integrin-associated VEGFR-3.
ABSTRACT: Lymphangiogenesis plays a pivotal role in diverse pathological conditions. Here, we demonstrate that a carbohydrate-binding protein, galectin-8, promotes pathological lymphangiogenesis. Galectin-8 is markedly upregulated in inflamed human and mouse corneas, and galectin-8 inhibitors reduce inflammatory lymphangiogenesis. In the mouse model of corneal allogeneic transplantation, galectin-8-induced lymphangiogenesis is associated with an increased rate of corneal graft rejection. Further, in the murine model of herpes simplex virus keratitis, corneal pathology and lymphangiogenesis are ameliorated in Lgals8(-/-) mice. Mechanistically, VEGF-C-induced lymphangiogenesis is significantly reduced in the Lgals8(-/-) and Pdpn(-/-) mice; likewise, galectin-8-induced lymphangiogenesis is reduced in Pdpn(-/-) mice. Interestingly, knockdown of VEGFR-3 does not affect galectin-8-mediated lymphatic endothelial cell (LEC) sprouting. Instead, inhibiting integrins ?1?1 and ?5?1 curtails both galectin-8- and VEGF-C-mediated LEC sprouting. Together, this study uncovers a unique molecular mechanism of lymphangiogenesis in which galectin-8-dependent crosstalk among VEGF-C, podoplanin and integrin pathways plays a key role.
Project description:GATA-binding protein 2 (GATA2) and LIM domain only 2 (Lmo2) form common transcription complexes during hematopoietic differentiation. Here we show that these two transcription factors also play a key role in endothelial cells (EC) and lymphatic EC (LEC) function. Primary EC and tumor-associated blood vessels expressed GATA2 and Lmo2. VEGF-induced sprouting angiogenesis in both differentiating embryonic stem cells (embryoid bodies) and primary EC increased GATA2 and Lmo2 levels. Conversely, silencing of GATA2 and Lmo2 expression in primary EC inhibited VEGF-induced angiogenic activity, including EC migration and sprouting in vitro, two key steps of angiogenesis in vivo. This inhibition of EC function was associated with downregulated expression of neuropilin-2 (NRP2), a co-receptor of VEGFRs for VEGF, at the protein, mRNA and promoter levels. NRP2 overexpression partially rescued the impaired angiogenic sprouting in the GATA2/Lmo2 knockdown EC, confirming that GATA2 and Lmo2 mediated EC function, at least in part, by directly regulating NRP2 gene expression. Furthermore, it was found that primary LEC expressed GATA2 and Lmo2 as well. Silencing of GATA2 and Lmo2 expression in LEC inhibited VEGF-induced LEC sprouting, also in a NRP2-dependent manner. In conclusion, our results demonstrate that GATA2 and Lmo2 cooperatively regulate VEGF-induced angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis via NRP2.
Project description:Lymphangiogenesis is an important biological process associated with the pathogenesis of several diseases, including metastatic dissemination, graft rejection, lymphoedema and other inflammatory disorders. The development of new drugs that block lymphangiogenesis has become a promising therapeutic strategy. In this study, we investigated the ability of toluquinol, a 2-methyl-hydroquinone isolated from the culture broth of the marine fungus Penicillium sp. HL-85-ALS5-R004, to inhibit lymphangiogenesis in vitro, ex vivo and in vivo.We used human lymphatic endothelial cells (LECs) to analyse the effect of toluquinol in 2D and 3D in vitro cultures and in the ex vivo mouse lymphatic ring assay. For in vivo approaches, the transgenic Fli1:eGFPy1 zebrafish, mouse ear sponges and cornea models were used. Western blotting and apoptosis analyses were carried out to search for drug targets.Toluquinol inhibited LEC proliferation, migration, tubulogenesis and sprouting of new lymphatic vessels. Furthermore, toluquinol induced apoptosis of LECs after 14 h of treatment in vitro, blocked the development of the thoracic duct in zebrafish and reduced the VEGF-C-induced lymphatic vessel formation and corneal neovascularization in mice. Mechanistically, we demonstrated that this drug attenuates VEGF-C-induced VEGFR-3 phosphorylation in a dose-dependent manner and suppresses the phosphorylation of Akt and ERK1/2.Based on these findings, we propose toluquinol as a new candidate with pharmacological potential for the treatment of lymphangiogenesis-related pathologies. Notably, its ability to suppress corneal neovascularization paves the way for applications in vascular ocular pathologies.
Project description:Despite the importance of blood vessels and lymphatic vessels during development and disease, the signalling pathways underpinning vessel construction remain poorly characterised. Primary mouse endothelial cells have traditionally proven difficult to culture and as a consequence, few assays have been developed to dissect gene function and signal transduction pathways in these cells ex vivo. Having established methodology for the purification, short-term culture and transfection of primary blood (BEC) and lymphatic (LEC) vascular endothelial cells isolated from embryonic mouse skin, we sought to optimise robust assays able to measure embryonic LEC proliferation, migration and three-dimensional tube forming ability in vitro. In the course of developing these assays using the pro-lymphangiogenic growth factors FGF2 and VEGF-C, we identified previously unrecognised roles for FGFR1 signalling in lymphangiogenesis. The small molecule FGF receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor SU5402, but not inhibitors of VEGFR-2 (SU5416) or VEGFR-3 (MAZ51), inhibited FGF2 mediated LEC proliferation, demonstrating that FGF2 promotes proliferation directly via FGF receptors and independently of VEGF receptors in primary embryonic LEC. Further investigation revealed that FGFR1 was by far the predominant FGF receptor expressed by primary embryonic LEC and correspondingly, siRNA-mediated FGFR1 knockdown abrogated FGF2 mediated LEC proliferation. While FGF2 potently promoted LEC proliferation and migration, three dimensional tube formation assays revealed that VEGF-C primarily promoted LEC sprouting and elongation, illustrating that FGF2 and VEGF-C play distinct, cooperative roles in lymphatic vascular morphogenesis. These assays therefore provide useful tools able to dissect gene function in cellular events important for lymphangiogenesis and implicate FGFR1 as a key player in developmental lymphangiogenesis in vivo.
Project description:Metastatic dissemination employs both the blood and lymphatic vascular systems. Solid tumors dynamically remodel and generate both vessel types during cancer progression. Lymphatic vessel invasion and cancer cells in the tumor-draining lymph nodes (LNs) are prognostic markers for breast cancer metastasis and patient outcome, and tumor-induced lymphangiogenesis likely influences metastasis. Deregulated tumor tissue fluid homeostasis and immune trafficking associated with tumor lymphangiogenesis may contribute to metastatic spreading; however, the precise functional characterization of lymphatic endothelial cells (LECs) in tumors is challenged by the lack of specific reagents to decipher their rate-limiting role in metastasis. Therefore, we generated novel transgenic mice (PDPN promoter-driven Cre recombinase transgene [PDPN-Cre] and PDPN promoter-driven thymidine kinase transgene [PDPN-tk]) that allow for the identification and genetically controlled depletion of proliferating podoplanin (Pdpn)-expressing LECs. We demonstrate that suppression of lymphangiogenesis is successfully achieved in lymphangioma lesions induced in the PDPN-tk mice. In multiple metastatic breast cancer mouse models, we identified distinct roles for LECs in primary and metastatic tumors. Our findings support the functional contribution of primary tumor lymphangiogenesis in controlling metastasis to axillary LNs and lung parenchyma. Reduced lymphatic vessel density enhanced primary tumor lymphedema and increased the frequency of intratumoral macrophages but was not associated with a significant impact on primary tumor growth despite a marked reduction in metastatic dissemination. Our findings identify the rate-limiting contribution of the breast tumor lymphatic vessels for lung metastasis.
Project description:Lymphatic metastasis is one of the main prognostic factors concerning long-term survival of cancer patients. In this regard, the molecular mechanisms of lymphangiogenesis are still rarely explored. Also, the interactions between stem cells and lymphatic endothelial cells (LEC) in humans have not been well examined. Therefore, the main objective of this study was to assess the interactions between mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) and LEC using in vitro angiogenesis assays. Juvenile LEC were stimulated with VEGF-C, bFGF, MSC-conditioned medium (MSC-CM) or by co-culture with MSC. LEC proliferation was assessed using a MTT assay. Migration of the cells was determined with a wound healing assay and a transmigration assay. To measure the formation of lymphatic sprouts, LEC spheroids were embedded in collagen or fibrin gels. The LEC's capacity to form capillary-like structures was assessed by a tube formation assay on Matrigel® . The proliferation, migration and tube formation of LEC could be significantly enhanced by MSC-CM and by co-culture with MSC. The effect of stimulation with MSC-CM was stronger compared to stimulation with the growth factors VEGF-C and bFGF in proliferation and transmigration assays. Sprouting was stimulated by VEGF-C, bFGF and by MSC-CM. With this study, we demonstrate the potent stimulating effect of the MSC secretome on proliferation, migration and tube formation of LEC. This indicates an important role of MSC in lymphangiogenesis in pathological as well as physiological processes.
Project description:Impaired lymphangiogenesis is a complication of chronic complex diseases, including diabetes. VEGF-C/VEGFR3 signaling promotes lymphangiogenesis, but how this pathway is affected in diabetes remains poorly understood. We previously demonstrated that loss of epsins 1 and 2 in lymphatic endothelial cells (LECs) prevented VEGF-C-induced VEGFR3 from endocytosis and degradation. Here, we report that diabetes attenuated VEGF-C-induced lymphangiogenesis in corneal micropocket and Matrigel plug assays in WT mice but not in mice with inducible lymphatic-specific deficiency of epsins 1 and 2 (LEC-iDKO). Consistently, LECs isolated from diabetic LEC-iDKO mice elevated in vitro proliferation, migration, and tube formation in response to VEGF-C over diabetic WT mice. Mechanistically, ROS produced in diabetes induced c-Src-dependent but VEGF-C-independent VEGFR3 phosphorylation, and upregulated epsins through the activation of transcription factor AP-1. Augmented epsins bound to and promoted degradation of newly synthesized VEGFR3 in the Golgi, resulting in reduced availability of VEGFR3 at the cell surface. Preclinically, the loss of lymphatic-specific epsins alleviated insufficient lymphangiogenesis and accelerated the resolution of tail edema in diabetic mice. Collectively, our studies indicate that inhibiting expression of epsins in diabetes protects VEGFR3 against degradation and ameliorates diabetes-triggered inhibition of lymphangiogenesis, thereby providing a novel potential therapeutic strategy to treat diabetic complications.
Project description:Lymphatic dysfunction is associated with the progression of many cardiovascular disorders due to their role in maintaining tissue fluid homeostasis. Promoting new lymphatic vessels (lymphangiogenesis) is a promising strategy to reverse these cardiovascular disorders via restoring lymphatic function. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) members VEGF-C and VEGF-D are both potent candidates for stimulating lymphangiogenesis, though maintaining spatial and temporal control of these factors represents a challenge to developing efficient therapeutic lymphangiogenic applications. Injectable alginate hydrogels have been useful for the controlled delivery of many angiogenic factors, including VEGF-A, to stimulate new blood vasculature. However, the utility of these tunable hydrogels for delivering lymphangiogenic factors has never been closely examined. Thus, the objective of this study was to utilize ionically cross-linked alginate hydrogels to deliver VEGF-C and VEGF-D for potential lymphangiogenic applications. We demonstrated that lymphatic endothelial cells (LECs) are sensitive to temporal presentation of VEGF-C and VEGF-D but with different responses between the factors. The greatest LEC mitogenic and sprouting response was observed for constant concentrations of VEGF-C and a high initial concentration that gradually decreased over time for VEGF-D. Additionally, alginate hydrogels provided sustained release of radiolabeled VEGF-C and VEGF-D. Finally, VEGF-C and VEGF-D released from these hydrogels promoted a similar number of LEC sprouts as exogenously added growth factors and new vasculature in vivo via a chick chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) assay. Overall, these findings demonstrate that alginate hydrogels can provide sustained and bioactive release of VEGF-C and VEGF-D which could have applications for therapeutic lymphangiogenesis.
Project description:The development of new lymphatic vessels occurs in many cancerous and inflammatory diseases through the binding of VEGF-C to its receptors, VEGFR-2 and VEGFR-3. The regulation of VEGFR-2/VEGFR-3 heterodimerisation and its downstream signaling in lymphatic endothelial cells (LECs) remain poorly understood. Here, we identify the endocytic receptor, uPARAP, as a partner of VEGFR-2 and VEGFR-3 that regulates their heterodimerisation. Genetic ablation of uPARAP leads to hyperbranched lymphatic vasculatures in pathological conditions without affecting concomitant angiogenesis. In vitro, uPARAP controls LEC migration in response to VEGF-C but not VEGF-A or VEGF-CCys156Ser. uPARAP restricts VEGFR-2/VEGFR-3 heterodimerisation and subsequent VEGFR-2-mediated phosphorylation and inactivation of Crk-II adaptor. uPARAP promotes VEGFR-3 signaling through the Crk-II/JNK/paxillin/Rac1 pathway. Pharmacological Rac1 inhibition in uPARAP knockout mice restores the wild-type phenotype. In summary, our study identifies a molecular regulator of lymphangiogenesis, and uncovers novel molecular features of VEGFR-2/VEGFR-3 crosstalk and downstream signaling during VEGF-C-driven LEC sprouting in pathological conditions.
Project description:Bone marrow-derived endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) infiltrate into sites of neovascularization in adult tissues and mature into functional blood endothelial cells (BECs) during a process called vasculogenesis. Human marrow-derived EPCs have recently been reported to display a mixed myeloid and lymphatic endothelial cell (LEC) phenotype during inflammation-induced angiogenesis; however, their role in cancer remains poorly understood. We report the in vitro differentiation of human cord blood CD133(+)CD34(+) progenitors into podoplanin(+) cells expressing both myeloid markers (CD11b, CD14) and the canonical LEC markers vascular endothelium growth factor receptor 3 (VEGFR-3), lymphatic vessel endothelial hyaluronan receptor 1 (LYVE-1), and prospero homeobox 1 (PROX-1). These podoplanin(+) cells displayed sprouting behavior comparable to that of LECs in vitro and a dual hemangiogenic and lymphangiogenic activity in vivo in an endothelial cell sprouting assay and corneal vascularization assay, respectively. Furthermore, these cells expressed vascular endothelium growth factor (VEGF) family members A, -C, and -D. Thus, bone-marrow derived EPCs stimulate hemangiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis through their ability to differentiate into LECs and to produce angiogenic factors. Importantly, plasma from patients with breast cancer induced differentiation of CD34(+) cord blood progenitors into hemangiogenic and lymphangiogenic CD11b(+) myeloid cells, whereas plasma from healthy women did not have this effect. Consistent with these findings, circulating CD11b(+) cells from breast cancer patients, but not from healthy women, displayed a similar dual angiogenic activity. Taken together, our results show that marrow-derived EPCs become hemangiogenic and lymphangiogenic upon exposure to cancer plasma. These newly identified functions of bone-marrow derived EPCs are expected to influence the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer.
Project description:The lymphatic system plays a key role in tissue fluid homeostasis. Lymphatic dysfunction contributes to the pathogenesis of many human diseases, including lymphedema and tumor metastasis. However, the mechanisms regulating lymphangiogenesis remain largely unknown. Here, we show that COUP-TFII (also known as Nr2f2), an orphan member of the nuclear receptor superfamily, mediates both developmental and pathological lymphangiogenesis in mice. Conditional ablation of COUP-TFII at an early embryonic stage resulted in failed formation of pre-lymphatic ECs (pre-LECs) and lymphatic vessels. COUP-TFII deficiency at a late developmental stage resulted in loss of LEC identity, gain of blood EC fate, and impaired lymphatic vessel sprouting. siRNA-mediated downregulation of COUP-TFII in cultured primary human LECs demonstrated that the maintenance of lymphatic identity and VEGF-C-induced lymphangiogenic activity, including cell proliferation and migration, are COUP-TFII-dependent and cell-autonomous processes. COUP-TFII enhanced the pro-lymphangiogenic actions of VEGF-C, at least in part by directly stimulating expression of neuropilin-2, a coreceptor for VEGF-C. In addition, COUP-TFII inactivation in a mammary gland mouse tumor model resulted in inhibition of tumor lymphangiogenesis, suggesting that COUP-TFII also regulates neo-lymphangiogenesis in the adult. Thus, COUP-TFII is a critical factor that controls lymphangiogenesis in embryonic development and tumorigenesis in adults.