Enhanced capillary formation stimulated by a chimeric vascular endothelial growth factor/vascular endothelial growth factor-C silk domain fusion protein

Salla Keskitalo, Tuomas Tammela, Johannes Lyytikkä, Terhi Kärpänen, Michael Jeltsch, Johanna Markkanen, Seppo Ylä-Herttuala, Kari Alitalo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-C and VEGF-D require proteolytic cleavage of the carboxy terminal silk-homology domain for activation. To study the functions of the VEGF-C propeptides, we engineered a chimeric growth factor protein, VEGF-CAC, composed of the amino- and carboxy-terminal propeptides of VEGF-C fused to the receptor-activating core domain of VEGF. Like VEGF-C, VEGF-CAC underwent proteolytic cleavage, and like VEGF, it bound to and activated VEGF receptor-1 and VEGF receptor- 2, but not the VEGF-C receptor VEGF receptor-3. VEGF-CAC also bound to neuropilins in a heparin-dependent manner. Strikingly, when VEGF-CAC was expressed via an adenovirus vector in the ear skin of immunodeficient mice, it proved to be a more potent inducer of capillary angiogenesis than VEGF. The VEGF-CAC-induced vessels differed greatly from those induced by VEGF, as they formed a very dense and fine network of pericyte and basement membrane-covered capillaries that were functional, as shown by lectin perfusion experiments. VEGF-CAC could prove useful in proangiogenic therapies in patients experiencing tissue ischemia.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCirculation Research
Issue number10
Pages (from-to)1460-1467
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2007
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Cite this