© 2015 Clegg, Mac Gabhann. Matrix-binding isoforms and non-matrix-binding isoforms of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) are both capable of stimulating vascular remodeling, but the resulting blood vessel networks are structurally and functionally different. Here, we develop and validate a computational model of the binding of soluble and immobilized ligands to VEGF receptor 2 (VEGFR2), the endosomal trafficking of VEGFR2, and site-specific VEGFR2 tyrosine phosphorylation to study differences in induced signaling between these VEGF isoforms. In capturing essential features of VEGFR2 signaling and trafficking, our model suggests that VEGFR2 trafficking parameters are largely consistent across multiple endothelial cell lines. Simulations demonstrate distinct localization of VEGFR2 phosphorylated on Y1175 and Y1214. This is the first model to clearly show that differences in site-specific VEGFR2 activation when stimulated with immobilized VEGF compared to soluble VEGF can be accounted for by altered trafficking of VEGFR2 without an intrinsic difference in receptor activation. The model predicts that Neuropilin-1 can induce differences in the surface-to-internal distribution of VEGFR2. Simulations also show that ligated VEGFR2 and phosphorylated VEGFR2 levels diverge over time following stimulation. Using this model, we identify multiple key levers that alter how VEGF binding to VEGFR2 results in different coordinated patterns of multiple downstream signaling pathways. Specifically, simulations predict that VEGF immobilization, interactions with Neuropilin-1, perturbations of VEGFR2 trafficking, and changes in expression or activity of phosphatases acting on VEGFR2 all affect the magnitude, duration, and relative strength of VEGFR2 phosphorylation on tyrosines 1175 and 1214, and they do so predictably within our single consistent model framework.
Clegg, L. W., & Mac Gabhann, F. (2015). Site-Specific Phosphorylation of VEGFR2 Is Mediated by Receptor Trafficking: Insights from a Computational Model. PLoS Computational Biology, 11(6). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1004158