Extracellular cleavage of the vascular endothelial growth factor 189- amino acid form by urokinase is required for its mitogenic effect

  • Plouët J
  • Moro F
  • Bertagnolli S
 et al. 
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Alternative splicing of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) mRNA results in three distinct molecular forms of 121 or 165 (V165) amino acids that are released in the conditioned medium of cultured cells and one longer isoform of 189 amino acids (V189) that remains cell-associated. V189 has been expressed in wild type CHO-K1 cells and in glycosaminoglycan-deficient pgsA-745 Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) mutant cells. It could be released from CHO-K1 cell membranes by heparin or a synthetic peptide designed on the sequence encoded by exon 6 but was freely released from CHO mutant cells. In both cases, the immunoreactive V189 was mainly released as a 40-kDa cleaved form, provided that the serine protease urokinase, but not plasmin, was active. Recombinant V189 was purified from insect cells infected with a recombinant baculovirus as a nonmitogenic 50-kDa precursor that binds to the receptor Flt-1 but not to Flk-1. It could be matured by urokinase as a 38-kDa fragment able to bind to Flk-1 and to trigger cell proliferation. V165 and V189, however, could be cleaved by plasmin as 34-kDa fragments that exhibit a decreased mitogenic activity. These findings indicate that the carboxyl-terminal domain of V189 masks its binding domain to Flk-1.

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  • Jean Plouët

  • Francoise Moro

  • Stéphane Bertagnolli

  • Nadine Coldeboeuf

  • Honore Mazarguil

  • Simone Clamens

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