VEGFR-3 controls tip to stalk conversion at vessel fusion sites by reinforcing Notch signalling

Tuomas Tammela, Georgia Zarkada, Harri Nurmi, Lars Jakobsson, Krista Heinolainen, Denis Tvorogov, Wei Zheng, Claudio A Franco, Aino Murtomäki, Evelyn Aranda, Naoyuki Miura, Seppo Ylä-Herttuala, Marcus Fruttiger, Taija Mäkinen, Anne Eichmann, Jeffrey W Pollard, Holger Gerhardt, Kari Alitalo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Angiogenesis, the growth of new blood vessels, involves specification of endothelial cells to tip cells and stalk cells, which is controlled by Notch signalling, whereas vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR)-2 and VEGFR-3 have been implicated in angiogenic sprouting. Surprisingly, we found that endothelial deletion of Vegfr3, but not VEGFR-3-blocking antibodies, postnatally led to excessive angiogenic sprouting and branching, and decreased the level of Notch signalling, indicating that VEGFR-3 possesses passive and active signalling modalities. Furthermore, macrophages expressing the VEGFR-3 and VEGFR-2 ligand VEGF-C localized to vessel branch points, and Vegfc heterozygous mice exhibited inefficient angiogenesis characterized by decreased vascular branching. FoxC2 is a known regulator of Notch ligand and target gene expression, and Foxc2(+/-);Vegfr3(+/-) compound heterozygosity recapitulated homozygous loss of Vegfr3. These results indicate that macrophage-derived VEGF-C activates VEGFR-3 in tip cells to reinforce Notch signalling, which contributes to the phenotypic conversion of endothelial cells at fusion points of vessel sprouts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1202-13
Number of pages12
JournalNature Cell Biology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Animals
  • Antibodies
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Endothelial Cells
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells
  • Humans
  • Macrophages
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic
  • Neovascularization, Physiologic
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinase
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • RNA Interference
  • Receptors, Notch
  • Retinal Vessels
  • Rhombencephalon
  • Signal Transduction
  • Time Factors
  • Transduction, Genetic
  • Transfection
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor B
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor C
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor D
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Receptor-3


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