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There is considerable evidence that vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is important in the pathogenesis of retinal neovascular diseases. The effects of this endothelial cell-specific mitogen are mediated by specific cell surface receptors. In this study we probed for the two VEGF receptors (VEGFRs) known to have highest affinity in the rat--flt-1 and flk-1. Using a well-characterized rat model of the neovascular disease retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), we performed immunohistochemical assays on methacrylate sections of eyes from normal and oxygen-injured animals at the time neovascularization is first observed (16 days of age) and at its peak (day 20). In day 16 room air retinas there was light, diffuse labeling of the inner nuclear layer and outer plexiform layer. In contrast, in 4 of 5 oxygen-injured eyes on day 16, there was specific labeling of small neovascular growths and normal retinal vessels, and the outermost (sclerad) limit of the label had shifted inward to the vitread border of the inner nuclear layer and the inner plexiform layer. Day 20 room air eyes showed a pattern similar to day 16, although with stronger labeling. However, in oxygen-injured eyes on day 20 the labeling pattern had shifted toward the vitreous, with extremely strong labeling of the preretinal neovascular growths. As on day 16 there was also labeling of the inner plexiform layer and the inner portion of the inner nuclear layer, but not the outer plexiform layer. Comparison of VEGF protein immunolabel with both of the VEGFR immunolabels revealed overlap and strong similarity on day 20 in the oxygen-injured eyes. This is the first report of VEGF receptor protein being concentrated in preretinal neovascular growths in a model of ROP. These results lend themselves to further investigation of the roles of VEGFRs in preretinal neovascularization in ROP and other retinal diseases and suggest avenues of research toward therapies using VEGFR antagonists.
Stromally derived keratinocyte growth factor (KGF) can play an important role in mammary gland development as a mesenchymal/stromal mediator of epithelial growth and morphogenesis. However, the possible coordinate regulation of mammary gland development by mammogenic hormones and KGF is unexplored. In these studies, the direct effect of mammogenic hormones on KGF-mediated mammary epithelial mitogenesis and expression of the KGF receptor was examined using primary mouse mammary epithelium growing in serum-free, collagen gel cell culture. Addition of KGF produced an average 7-fold increase in cell number after 10 days of culture. This effect of KGF was further increased in the presence of PRL (9-fold) or progesterone (P; 15-fold), with the combination of P and PRL (22-fold) producing the strongest synergistic stimulation. Estrogen did not show any additional stimulation of growth either alone or in combination with PRL and/or P. Ribonuclease protection analysis showed that epithelial cells grown in medium supplemented with P, but not PRL or estrogen, exhibited a 10-fold higher steady state level of KGF receptor (KGFR) messenger RNA (mRNA). KGFR expression was not induced by short term P exposure, suggesting an effect on mRNA stability rather than transcriptional activation. Time-course studies showed that an early decrease in the level of KGFR mRNA in basal cultures was significantly reduced by P addition. Measurement of RNA turnover after actinomycin D treatment showed that P increased the t(1/2) of KGFR mRNA compared with basal medium. Thus, P and PRL may differentially potentiate the direct mitogenic effect of KGF: P partly by elevation of the level of KGFR mRNA, and PRL principally by intracellular pathways not affecting KGFR expression.
The cardiovascular system develops early in embryogenesis from cells of mesodermal origin. To study the molecular and cellular processes underlying this transition, we have isolated mesodermal cells from murine embryos at E7.5 with characteristic properties of endothelial progenitors by using a combination of stromal cell layers and growth conditions. The isolated embryonic cells displayed unlimited stem-cell-like growth potential and a stable phenotype in culture. RNA analysis revealed that the embryonic cells express the endothelial-specific genes tie-2 and thrombomodulin (TM) as well as the early mesodermal marker fgf-3. The GSL I-B4 isolectin, a marker of early endothelial cells, specifically binds to the isolated cells. The in vitro differentiation with retinoic acid and cAMP led to a 5- to 10-fold induction of flk-1, von Willebrand Factor (vWF), TM, GATA-4 and GATA-6. Electron microscopy revealed that in vitro differentiation is associated with increased amounts of rER and Golgi, and a dramatic increase in secretory vesicles packed with vWF. When cultured in Matrigel, the embryonic cells assume the characteristic endothelial cobblestone morphology and form tubes. Injection into chicken embryos showed incorporation of the embryonic cells in the endocardium and the brain vasculature. The expression of TM, tie-2, GATA-4 and GATA-6 suggests that the isolated embryonic endothelial cell progenitors are derived from the proximal lateral mesoderm where the pre-endocardial tubes form. The properties of the endothelial cell progenitors described here provide a novel approach to analyze mediators, signaling pathways and transcriptional control in early vascular development.
Bone Morphogenetic Proteins (BMPs) are potent regulators of embryonic cell fate that are presumed to initiate signal transduction in recipient cells through multimeric, transmembrane, serine/threonine kinase complexes made up of type I and type II receptors. BMPRII was identified previously in mammals as the only type II receptor that binds BMPs, but not activin or TGFbeta, in vitro. We report the cloning and functional analysis in vivo of its Xenopus homolog, XBMPRII. XBMPRII is expressed maternally and zygotically in an initially unrestricted manner. Strikingly, XBMPRII transcripts then become restricted to the mesodermal precursors during gastrulation. Expression is lower in the dorsal organizer region, potentially providing a mechanism to suppress the actions of BMP4 on dorsally fated tissues. Similar to the results seen for a truncated type I BMP receptor (tBR), a dominant-negative form of XBMPRII (tBRII) can dorsalize ventral mesoderm, induce extensive secondary body axes, block mesoderm induction by BMP4 and directly neuralize ectoderm, strongly suggesting that XBMPRII mediates BMP signals in vivo. However, although both tBRII and tBR can induce partial secondary axes, marker analysis shows that tBRII-induced axes are more anteriorly extended. Additionally, coinjection of tBRII and tBR synergistically increases the incidence of secondary axis formation. A truncated activin type II receptor (deltaXAR1) is known to block both activin and BMP signaling in vivo. Here we show that such crossreactivity does not occur for tBRII, in that it does not affect activin signaling. Furthermore, our studies indicate that the full-length activin type II receptor (XAR1) overcomes a block in BMP4 signaling imposed by tBRII, implicating XAR1 as a common component of BMP and activin signaling pathways in vivo. These data implicate XBMPRII as a type II receptor with high selectivity for BMP signaling, and therefore as a critical mediator of the effects of BMPs as mesodermal patterning agents and suppressors of neural fate during embryogenesis.
INTRODUCTION - Surgical and traumatic injuries to the bladder initiate a complex series of biological processes that result in wound healing. This process involves cellular proliferation, migration and differentiation; removal of damaged tissue; and production of extracellular matrix all of which may be controlled by growth factors. In skin, keratinocyte growth factor (KGF) is induced following incisional injury. We hypothesize that in bladder wound healing KGF and other growth factors are induced to modulate tissue repair.
METHODS - We have created a model of surgical bladder injury in the rodent. At 12, 24 and 48 hrs and 5 and 7 days after injury, the bladder was bisected and total RNA extracted from the anterior or wounded half and posterior or non-wounded half. Histological analysis of the bladder wound was performed with Mason's Trichrome and immunohistochemistry against smooth muscle alpha actin. RNase protection assays were performed to examine the expression of KGF, transforming growth factor (TGF)alpha and TGF beta 2 and 3 as well as the receptors for KGF and epidermal growth factor (EGF). Lastly, the effects of the exogenous administration of KGF on the bladder was tested on neonatal mice by daily injections of 5 micrograms KGF per gram body weight for 5 days.
RESULTS - At 12 hours after injury KGF mRNA expression in the anterior wounded bladder half and posterior non-wounded bladder half was 8 and 6 times higher respectively, compared to unoperated control bladders. A similar response was seen for TGF alpha, where the 12 hour mRNA expression was 4.5 times higher in the anterior wounded bladder half and 3.5 times higher in the posterior non-wounded bladder half compared to unoperated control bladders. The nadir mRNA expression for both KGF and TGF alpha occurred at 7 days after bladder injury and was the same as in unoperated control bladders. EGFR mRNA expression was approximately 2 times higher in both the anterior wounded and posterior non-wounded bladder halves compared to the nadir levels which occurred at 24 hours after injury. TGF beta 2 and beta 3 mRNA levels did not significantly change in either the anterior wounded or posterior non-wounded bladder halves. Exogenous KGF stimulation resulted in a marked urothelial proliferation when compared to age matched control animals.
CONCLUSION - During the early phases of bladder wound healing (12-24 hours post injury), mRNA for KGF and TGF alpha increased, whereas TGF beta 2 and beta 3 and the KGFR and EGFR remain unchanged. Additionally, exogenous KGF has a direct effect on urothelial proliferation. KGF and TGF alpha warrant further study as potential mediators of bladder wound healing.
During fetal and neonatal development and experimental obstruction, the bladder wall undergoes changes in both the amount and composition of the urothelium, extracellular matrix, and smooth muscle. We hypothesize that cell-cell signaling among the different layers of the bladder wall mediates these changes. Growth factors likely to be involved in this process are keratinocyte growth factor (KGF) and transforming growth factor (TGF)-alpha, -beta 2, and -beta 3. Whole rodent bladders were analyzed by RNase protection assays for KGF, KGF receptor, TGF alpha, epidermal growth factor receptor, and TGF beta 2 and -beta 3 transcripts at Fetal Day 14 (before smooth muscle differentiation) and Fetal Day 18 (after smooth muscle differentiation), at birth, and 60 days postnatal. Growth factor transcripts were also analyzed in partially obstructed rodent bladders and in sham-operated animals. TGF beta 2 and -beta 3 mRNA expression decreased as a function of gestational age, whereas TGF alpha mRNA increased. KGF mRNA was low before smooth muscle differentiation at 14 days' gestation, then increased. The mRNA of receptors for KGF and EGF remained essentially unchanged throughout bladder development. In bladders subjected to partial urethral outlet obstruction, there was a 2-fold increase in mRNA for TGF beta 2, a 5-fold increase in TGF beta 3, and a 10-fold increase TGF alpha mRNA. In contrast, there was no change in transcripts for either KGF or receptors for KGF and epidermal growth factor. Immunohistochemical localization of the protein for these growth factors showed selective localization to the epithelium and/or smooth muscle for TGF beta 2 and -beta 3, whereas TGF alpha and the epidermal growth factor receptor localized throughout the bladder wall. In conclusion, growth factor mRNA expression is modulated in bladder development and obstruction, which implies a possible mechanistic role of growth factors for the observed changes in the bladder wall and extracellular matrix.
The transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) superfamily comprises a number of molecules that are involved in a wide variety of biological processes. Specific receptors for several members of this family have been molecularly identified, forming a new category of transmembrane serine/threonine kinase receptors. The type I and type II receptor interact both physically and functionally, thereby cooperating to generate intracellular signals. The yeast two-hybrid system was used to identify proteins that can interact with the cytoplasmic region of the type I TGF-beta receptor. One of the proteins identified encodes a novel putative serine/threonine kinase receptor. Sequence analysis suggests that this molecule belongs to the type II receptor class. This receptor, however, is distinct from other type II receptors in having an extraordinarily long C-terminal tail region. The pattern of expression in adult tissues is different from that of other known type II receptors; it is highly expressed in heart and liver. In the yeast system, the cytoplasmic regions of different combinations of type I and type II receptors heterodimerize, providing a new cloning strategy for the large number of serine/threonine kinase receptors likely to exist for the many ligands of the TGF-beta superfamily.