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Sealing the Hydra’s head : the search for the specific part of angiopoietin-2 that activates integrin as a potential therapy for cancer

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Title: Sealing the Hydra’s head : the search for the specific part of angiopoietin-2 that activates integrin as a potential therapy for cancer
Author(s): Coles, Eric Anthony
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Discipline: Biotechnology
Language: English
Acceptance year: 2019
Tiivistelmä–Referat–Abstract Background: Cancer is one of the leading causes of death around the world and in Finland. Ambitious research projects have been carried out for decades investigating cancer and how it spreads. Over 35 years ago, the systems that regulate vascular formation were discovered; the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-VEGF receptor VEGFR system and the more recent Angiopoietin-TIE system. These are the main endothelial growth factor receptor pathways involved in regulation of vessel quiescence and angiogenesis. The VEGF-VEGFR system is the first discovered endothelial cell (EC) specific receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) signaling system. VEGF is a major growth factor involved in proangiogenic activity and vascular permeability when bound to its receptor, VEGFR2. Tumor cells take advantage of the VEGF-VEGFR2 system by secreting VEGF to stimulate angiogenesis in surrounding tissue to create new blood vessels allowing for greater access to nutrients and oxygen for tumor growth. The Angiopoietin-TIE system is the second EC specific RTK signaling system that was discovered. Angiopoietin-1 (ANG1) is the ligand for the TIE2 RTK. ANG1 is an obligatory TIE2 agonist and its effects on intracellular signaling, cell cytoskeleton, and junction-related molecules allows ANG1 to restrict the amount and size of gaps that are formed at EC junctions in inflamed vessels, increasing barrier function and decreasing vascular permeability. Angiopoietin-2 (ANG2) is an autocrine context-dependent TIE2 agonist/antagonist which is implicated in stimulating pathological angiogenesis, inflammation and vascular permeability. Integrins are important cell surface receptors that all cells use to communicate with their environment. Recently, it has been discovered that ANG2 is capable of inducing pathological angiogenesis, and can destabilize ECs when bound to integrin, specifically β1-integrin, via ANG2 N-terminal region. Objectives: The general aim of this study was to discover which part of angiopoiten-2’s N-terminus region was responsible for integrin activation. Materials and Methods: Fibronectin fragment containing type III 7-10 domains was produced and fluorescently labeled with Alexa 647. Integrin activation was measured using the fluorescently labeled Fibronectin III 7-10 and angiopoietins. Fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS) was used to collect the results, which were analyzed using excel. Chimeric angiopoietins were produced using retroviral vectors and used for FACS experiments. A cell internalization assay was performed in Hela cells using CellTracker™ Orange CMRA and angiopoietin proteins, stained with secondary antibody anti-human Alexa 488 and Texas Red Phallodin. Results: Optimization of the FACS assay defined the minimum number of cells required to reliably measure integrin activation and showed that BD Accuri FACS machine was better suited than Guarva FACS machine for the assay and that the amount of integrin varied between cell passages used for the assay. In addition, it was essential to ensure a homogenous mix of cells and recombinant proteins during the assay and the quality of the produced FN III 7-10 was critical for the success of the assay. Results from the FACS assay confirmed that ANG2 is capable of activating integrin. In addition, chimeric angiopoietins that were expressed and secreted from CHO cells, were capable of activating integrins to a variable degree. The results confirmed the importance of ANG2 N-terminus in integrin activation. Cell internalization assay visually demonstrated angiopoietin binding to Hela cells. ANG2 was internalized by the cell and resistant to the acid wash, while the majority of ANG1 bound to the cell surface was washed away by acid wash. Conclusions: In this thesis work, integrin activation assays were optimized and carried out, along with cell internalization assays, to determine which specific part of ANG2 is responsible for inducing integrin activation. The findings from this work confirmed that ANG2 is capable of activating integrin. Several chimeric constructs were successfully expressed in CHO cells, and the cell supernatants were used to activate integrins. However, more studies are needed to determine which specific region of ANG2 is responsible for integrin activation. Investigating angiopoietin induced integrin activation would allow for a better understanding of the angiopoietin signaling pathway with potential translational significance.
Keyword(s): Angiogenesis Angiopoietin Cancer FACS Fibronectin Integrin Activation Translational Vascular Biology.

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