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Browsing by Author "Aho, Kukka"

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  • Aho, Kukka (2012)
    In multicellular organisms, complex signalling mechanisms have evolved to guide the behaviour of individual cells. Growth factors are secreted proteins that can stimulate the proliferation and/or differentiation of cells. Vascular endothelial growth factor D (VEGF-D) is a ligand for VEGF receptor 2 (VEGFR-2) and for VEGFR-3, which are predominantly expressed on blood vascular endothelial cells and on lymphatic endothelial cells, respectively. Thus VEGF-D can contribute to growth of both blood vessels (angiogenesis) and lymphatic vessels (lymphangiogenesis). Although there have been many reports showing the angiogenic and lymphangiogenic effects of VEGF-D, its physiological role is still largely unknown. Most of these reports are severely hampered by incomplete characterization of the specific form of VEGF-D that was used. During or after secretion, VEGF-D undergoes complicated proteolytic processing. Alternative Nterminal cleavage results in two different fully processed forms, VEGF-D major and VEGF-D minor. Processing significantly increases the activity of VEGF-D towards its receptors. Surprisingly, it is still unknown whether the differential N-terminal cleavage of VEGF-D has any effect on receptor binding activity or on receptor activation. The goal of this study was to produce and purify high quality biologically active VEGF-D which is needed for studying the physiological role of this growth factor. Several different forms of recombinant human VEGF-D were produced using the Drosophila Schneider 2 insect cell system. A bioassay utilizing the Ba/F3 cells expressing chimeric VEGFR/EpoR receptors was used to determine the receptor binding activities of recombinant VEGF-Ds. Two constructs producing biologically active VEGF-Ds were chosen for chromatographic purification (untagged major and his-tagged major forms). During purification, the activity of both VEGF-D forms towards their receptors decreased significantly. In case of the untagged form, this was presumably due to some residual proteolytic activity during purifications. The results might indicate that only the major form is responsible for the activation of VEGFR-3. The fact that no activity of the minor forms was detected when screening the cell supernatants with Ba/F3-VEGFR-3-EpoR-bioassay, supports this explanation. If this explanation can be verified, the role of the alternative N-terminal cleavage becomes obvious: By proteolysis the activity of VEGF-D can be redirected from the lymphatics towards the blood vessels.