Angiogenesis Publications

Liu C-H, Wang Z, Sun Y, Chen J. Animal models of ocular angiogenesis: from development to pathologies. FASEB J 2017;Abstract
Pathological angiogenesis in the eye is an important feature in the pathophysiology of many vision-threatening diseases, including retinopathy of prematurity, diabetic retinopathy, and age-related macular degeneration, as well as corneal diseases with abnormal angiogenesis. Development of reproducible and reliable animal models of ocular angiogenesis has advanced our understanding of both the normal development and the pathobiology of ocular neovascularization. These models have also proven to be valuable experimental tools with which to easily evaluate potential antiangiogenic therapies beyond eye research. This review summarizes the current available animal models of ocular angiogenesis. Models of retinal and choroidal angiogenesis, including oxygen-induce retinopathy, laser-induced choroidal neovascularization, and transgenic mouse models with deficient or spontaneous retinal/choroidal neovascularization, as well as models with induced corneal angiogenesis, are widely used to investigate the molecular and cellular basis of angiogenic mechanisms. Theoretical concepts and experimental protocols of these models are outlined, as well as their advantages and potential limitations, which may help researchers choose the most suitable models for their investigative work.-Liu, C.-H., Wang, Z., Sun, Y., Chen, J. Animal models of ocular angiogenesis: from development to pathologies.
Huang X, Zhou G, Wu W, Duan Y, Ma G, Song J, Xiao R, Vandenberghe L, Zhang F, D'Amore PA, Lei H. Genome editing abrogates angiogenesis in vivo. Nat Commun 2017;8(1):112.Abstract
Angiogenesis, in which vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR) 2 plays an essential role, is associated with a variety of human diseases including proliferative diabetic retinopathy and wet age-related macular degeneration. Here we report that a system of adeno-associated virus (AAV)-mediated clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)-associated endonuclease (Cas)9 from Streptococcus pyogenes (SpCas9) is used to deplete VEGFR2 in vascular endothelial cells (ECs), whereby the expression of SpCas9 is driven by an endothelial-specific promoter of intercellular adhesion molecule 2. We further show that recombinant AAV serotype 1 (rAAV1) transduces ECs of pathologic vessels, and that editing of genomic VEGFR2 locus using rAAV1-mediated CRISPR/Cas9 abrogates angiogenesis in the mouse models of oxygen-induced retinopathy and laser-induced choroid neovascularization. This work establishes a strong foundation for genome editing as a strategy to treat angiogenesis-associated diseases.Abnormal angiogenesis causes many ocular diseases. Here the authors employ CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technology to silence VEGFR2, a major regulator of angiogenesis, in retinal endothelium and abrogate angiogenesis in the mouse models of oxygen-induced retinopathy and laser-induced choroid neovascularization.
Sun Y, Liu C-H, Wang Z, Meng SS, Burnim SB, SanGiovanni JP, Kamenecka TM, Solt LA, Chen J. RORα modulates semaphorin 3E transcription and neurovascular interaction in pathological retinal angiogenesis. FASEB J 2017;Abstract
Pathological proliferation of retinal blood vessels commonly causes vision impairment in proliferative retinopathies, including retinopathy of prematurity. Dysregulated crosstalk between the vasculature and retinal neurons is increasingly recognized as a major factor contributing to the pathogenesis of vascular diseases. Class 3 semaphorins (SEMA3s), a group of neuron-secreted axonal and vascular guidance factors, suppress pathological vascular growth in retinopathy. However, the upstream transcriptional regulators that mediate the function of SEMA3s in vascular growth are poorly understood. Here we showed that retinoic acid receptor-related orphan receptor α (RORα), a nuclear receptor and transcription factor, is a novel transcriptional regulator of SEMA3E-mediated neurovascular coupling in a mouse model of oxygen-induced proliferative retinopathy. We found that genetic deficiency of RORα substantially induced Sema3e expression in retinopathy. Both RORα and SEMA3E were expressed in retinal ganglion cells. RORα directly bound to a specific ROR response element on the promoter of Sema3e and negatively regulated Sema3e promoter-driven luciferase expression. Suppression of Sema3e using adeno associated virus 2-carrying short hairpin RNA targeting Sema3e promoted disoriented pathological neovascularization and partially abolished the inhibitory vascular effects of RORα deficiency in retinopathy. Our findings suggest that RORα is a novel transcriptional regulator of SEMA3E-mediated neurovascular coupling in pathological retinal angiogenesis.-Sun, Y., Liu, C.-H., Wang, Z., Meng, S. S., Burnim, S. B., SanGiovanni, J. P., Kamenecka, T. M., Solt, L. A., Chen, J. RORα modulates semaphorin 3E transcription and neurovascular interaction in pathological retinal angiogenesis.
Khajavi M, Zhou Y, Birsner AE, Bazinet L, Rosa Di Sant A, Schiffer AJ, Rogers MS, Krishnaji ST, Hu B, Nguyen V, Zon L, D'Amato RJ. Identification of Padi2 as a novel angiogenesis-regulating gene by genome association studies in mice. PLoS Genet 2017;13(6):e1006848.Abstract
Recent findings indicate that growth factor-driven angiogenesis is markedly influenced by genetic variation. This variation in angiogenic responsiveness may alter the susceptibility to a number of angiogenesis-dependent diseases. Here, we utilized the genetic diversity available in common inbred mouse strains to identify the loci and candidate genes responsible for differences in angiogenic response. The corneal micropocket neovascularization assay was performed on 42 different inbred mouse strains using basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) pellets. We performed a genome-wide association study utilizing efficient mixed-model association (EMMA) mapping using the induced vessel area from all strains. Our analysis yielded five loci with genome-wide significance on chromosomes 4, 8, 11, 15 and 16. We further refined the mapping on chromosome 4 within a haplotype block containing multiple candidate genes. These genes were evaluated by expression analysis in corneas of various inbred strains and in vitro functional assays in human microvascular endothelial cells (HMVECs). Of these, we found the expression of peptidyl arginine deiminase type II (Padi2), known to be involved in metabolic pathways, to have a strong correlation with a haplotype shared by multiple high angiogenic strains. In addition, inhibition of Padi2 demonstrated a dosage-dependent effect in HMVECs. To investigate its role in vivo, we knocked down Padi2 in transgenic kdrl:zsGreen zebrafish embryos using morpholinos. These embryos had disrupted vessel formation compared to control siblings. The impaired vascular pattern was partially rescued by human PADI2 mRNA, providing evidence for the specificity of the morphant phenotype. Taken together, our study is the first to indicate the potential role of Padi2 as an angiogenesis-regulating gene. The characterization of Padi2 and other genes in associated pathways may provide new understanding of angiogenesis regulation and novel targets for diagnosis and treatment of a wide variety of angiogenesis-dependent diseases.
Ying Y, Ueta T, Jiang S, Lin H, Wang Y, Vavvas D, Wen R, Chen Y-G, Luo Z. Metformin inhibits ALK1-mediated angiogenesis via activation of AMPK. Oncotarget 2017;8(20):32794-32806.Abstract
Anti-VEGF therapy has been proven to be effective in the treatment of pathological angiogenesis. However, therapy resistance often occurs, leading to development of alternative approaches. The present study examines if AMPK negatively regulates ALK1-mediated signaling events and associated angiogenesis. Thus, we treated human umbilical vein endothelial cells with metformin as well as other pharmacological AMPK activators and showed that activation of AMPK inhibited Smad1/5 phosphorylation and tube formation induced by BMP9. This event was mimicked by expression of the active mutant of AMPKα1 and prevented by the dominant negative AMPKα1. Metformin inhibition of BMP9 signaling is possibly mediated by upregulation of Smurf1, leading to degradation of ALK1. Furthermore, metformin suppressed BMP9-induced angiogenesis in mouse matrigel plug. In addition, laser photocoagulation was employed to evaluate the effect of metformin. The data revealed that metformin significantly reduced choroidal neovascularization to a level comparable to LDN212854, an ALK1 specific inhibitor. In conjunction, metformin diminished expression of ALK1 in endothelium of the lesion area. Collectively, our study for the first time demonstrates that AMPK inhibits ALK1 and associated angiogenesis/neovascularization. This may offer us a new avenue for the treatment of related diseases using clinically used pharmacological AMPK activators like metformin in combination with other strategies to enhance the treatment efficacy or in the case of anti-VEGF resistance.
Sun Y, Lin Z, Liu C-H, Gong Y, Liegl R, Fredrick TW, Meng SS, Burnim SB, Wang Z, Akula JD, Pu WT, Chen J, Smith LEH. Inflammatory signals from photoreceptor modulate pathological retinal angiogenesis via c-Fos. J Exp Med 2017;214(6):1753-1767.Abstract
Pathological neovessels growing into the normally avascular photoreceptors cause vision loss in many eye diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration and macular telangiectasia. Ocular neovascularization is strongly associated with inflammation, but the source of inflammatory signals and the mechanisms by which these signals regulate the disruption of avascular privilege in photoreceptors are unknown. In this study, we found that c-Fos, a master inflammatory regulator, was increased in photoreceptors in a model of pathological blood vessels invading photoreceptors: the very low-density lipoprotein receptor-deficient (Vldlr(-/-) ) mouse. Increased c-Fos induced inflammatory cytokines interleukin 6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor (TNF), leading to activation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) and increased TNFα-induced protein 3 (TNFAIP3) in Vldlr(-/-) photoreceptors. IL-6 activated the STAT3/vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGFA) pathway directly, and elevated TNFAIP3 suppressed SOCS3 (suppressor of cytokine signaling 3)-activated STAT3/VEGFA indirectly. Inhibition of c-Fos using photoreceptor-specific AAV (adeno-associated virus)-hRK (human rhodopsin kinase)-sh_c-fos or a chemical inhibitor substantially reduced the pathological neovascularization and rescued visual function in Vldlr(-/-) mice. These findings suggested that the photoreceptor c-Fos controls blood vessel growth into the normally avascular photoreceptor layer through the inflammatory signal-induced STAT3/VEGFA pathway.
Lam JD, Oh DJ, Wong LL, Amarnani D, Park-Windhol C, Sanchez AV, Cardona-Velez J, McGuone D, Stemmer-Rachamimov AO, Eliott D, Bielenberg DR, van Zyl T, Shen L, Gai X, D'Amore PA, Kim LA, Arboleda-Velasquez JF. Identification of RUNX1 as a Mediator of Aberrant Retinal Angiogenesis. Diabetes 2017;66(7):1950-1956.Abstract
Proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) is a common cause of blindness in the developed world's working adult population and affects those with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. We identified Runt-related transcription factor 1 (RUNX1) as a gene upregulated in CD31(+) vascular endothelial cells obtained from human PDR fibrovascular membranes (FVMs) via transcriptomic analysis. In vitro studies using human retinal microvascular endothelial cells (HRMECs) showed increased RUNX1 RNA and protein expression in response to high glucose, whereas RUNX1 inhibition reduced HRMEC migration, proliferation, and tube formation. Immunohistochemical staining for RUNX1 showed reactivity in vessels of patient-derived FVMs and angiogenic tufts in the retina of mice with oxygen-induced retinopathy, suggesting that RUNX1 upregulation is a hallmark of aberrant retinal angiogenesis. Inhibition of RUNX1 activity with the Ro5-3335 small molecule resulted in a significant reduction of neovascular tufts in oxygen-induced retinopathy, supporting the feasibility of targeting RUNX1 in aberrant retinal angiogenesis.
Konstantinou EK, Notomi S, Kosmidou C, Brodowska K, Al-Moujahed A, Nicolaou F, Tsoka P, Gragoudas E, Miller JW, Young LH, Vavvas DG. Verteporfin-induced formation of protein cross-linked oligomers and high molecular weight complexes is mediated by light and leads to cell toxicity. Sci Rep 2017;7:46581.Abstract

Verteporfin (VP) was first used in Photodynamic therapy, where a non-thermal laser light (689 nm) in the presence of oxygen activates the drug to produce highly reactive oxygen radicals, resulting in local cell and tissue damage. However, it has also been shown that Verteporfin can have non-photoactivated effects such as interference with the YAP-TEAD complex of the HIPPO pathway, resulting in growth inhibition of several neoplasias. More recently, it was proposed that, another non-light mediated effect of VP is the formation of cross-linked oligomers and high molecular weight protein complexes (HMWC) that are hypothesized to interfere with autophagy and cell growth. Here, in a series of experiments, using human uveal melanoma cells (MEL 270), human embryonic kidney cells (HEK) and breast cancer cells (MCF7) we showed that Verteporfin-induced HMWC require the presence of light. Furthermore, we showed that the mechanism of this cross-linking, which involves both singlet oxygen and radical generation, can occur very efficiently even after lysis of the cells, if the lysate is not protected from ambient light. This work offers a better understanding regarding VP's mechanisms of action and suggests caution when one studies the non-light mediated actions of this drug.

Adini A, Adini I, Chi Z-L, Derda R, Birsner AE, Matthews BD, D'Amato RJ. A novel strategy to enhance angiogenesis in vivo using the small VEGF-binding peptide PR1P. Angiogenesis 2017;20(3):399-408.Abstract
Therapeutic angiogenesis is an experimental frontier in vascular biology that seeks to deliver angiogenic growth factors to ischemic or injured tissues to promote targeted formation of new blood vessels as an alternative approach to surgical revascularization procedures. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a potent angiogenic signal protein that is locally upregulated at sites of tissue injury. However, therapies aimed at increasing VEGF levels experimentally by injecting VEGF gene or protein failed to improve outcomes in human trials in part due to its short half-life and systemic toxicity. We recently designed a novel 12-amino acid peptide (PR1P) whose sequence was derived from an extracellular VEGF-binding domain of the pro-angiogenic glycoprotein prominin-1. In this study, we characterized the molecular binding properties of this novel potential therapeutic for targeted angiogenesis and provided the foundation for its use as an angiogenic molecule that can potentiate endogenous VEGF. We showed that PR1P bound VEGF directly and enhanced VEGF binding to endothelial cells and to VEGF receptors VEGFR2 and neuropilin-1. PR1P increased angiogenesis in the murine corneal micropocket assay when combined with VEGF, but had no activity without added VEGF. In addition, PR1P also enhanced angiogenesis in murine choroidal neovascularization and wound-healing models and augmented reperfusion in a murine hind-limb ischemia model. Together our data suggest that PR1P enhanced angiogenesis by potentiating the activity of endogenous VEGF. In so doing, this novel therapy takes advantage of endogenous VEGF gradients generated in injured tissues and may improve the efficacy of and avoid systemic toxicity seen with previous VEGF therapies.
Pennock S, Kim LA, Kazlauskas A. Vascular Endothelial Cell Growth Factor A Acts via Platelet-Derived Growth Factor Receptor α To Promote Viability of Cells Enduring Hypoxia. Mol Cell Biol 2016;36(18):2314-27.Abstract

Vascular endothelial cell growth factor A (VEGF) is a biologically and therapeutically important growth factor because it promotes angiogenesis in response to hypoxia, which underlies a wide variety of both physiological and pathological settings. We report here that both VEGF receptor 2 (VEGFR2)-positive and -negative cells depended on VEGF to endure hypoxia. VEGF enhanced the viability of platelet-derived growth factor receptor α (PDGFRα)-positive and VEGFR2-negative cells by enabling indirect activation of PDGFRα, thereby reducing the level of p53. We conclude that the breadth of VEGF's influence extends beyond VEGFR-positive cells and propose a plausible mechanistic explanation of this phenomenon.

Taher M, Nakao S, Zandi S, Melhorn MI, Hayes KC, Hafezi-Moghadam A. Phenotypic transformation of intimal and adventitial lymphatics in atherosclerosis: a regulatory role for soluble VEGF receptor 2. FASEB J 2016;30(7):2490-9.Abstract

The role of lymphatics in atherosclerosis is not yet understood. Here, we investigate lymphatic growth dynamics and marker expression in atherosclerosis in apolipoprotein E-deficient (apoE(-/-)) mice. The prolymphangiogenic growth factor, VEGF-C, was elevated in atherosclerotic aortic walls. Despite increased VEGF-C, we found that adventitial lymphatics regress during the course of formation of atherosclerosis (P < 0.01). Similar to lymphatic regression, the number of lymphatic vessel endothelial hyaluronan receptor 1 (LYVE-1(+)) macrophages decreased in the aortic adventitia of apoE(-/-) mice with atherosclerosis (P < 0.01). Intimal lymphatics in the atherosclerotic lesions exhibited an atypical phenotype, with the expression of podoplanin and VEGF receptor 3 (VEGFR-3) but not of LYVE-1 and prospero homeobox protein 1. In the aortas of atherosclerotic animals, we found markedly increased soluble VEGFR-2. We hypothesized that the elevated soluble VEGFR-2 that was found in the aortas of apoE(-/-) mice with atherosclerosis binds to and diminishes the activity of VEGF-C. This trapping mechanism explains, despite increased VEGF-C in the atherosclerotic aortas, how adventitial lymphatics regress. Lymphatic regression impedes the drainage of lipids, growth factors, inflammatory cytokines, and immune cells. Insufficient lymphatic drainage could thus exacerbate atherosclerosis formation. Our study contributes new insights to previously unknown dynamic changes of adventitial lymphatics. Targeting soluble VEGFR-2 in atherosclerosis may provide a new strategy for the liberation of endogenous VEGF-C and the prevention of lymphatic regression.-Taher, M., Nakao, S., Zandi, S., Melhorn, M. I., Hayes, K. C., Hafezi-Moghadam, A. Phenotypic transformation of intimal and adventitial lymphatics in atherosclerosis: a regulatory role for soluble VEGF receptor 2.

Park-Windhol C, D'Amore PA. Disorders of Vascular Permeability. Annu Rev Pathol 2016;11:251-81.Abstract

The endothelial barrier maintains vascular and tissue homeostasis and modulates many physiological processes, such as angiogenesis. Vascular barrier integrity can be disrupted by a variety of soluble permeability factors, and changes in barrier function can exacerbate tissue damage during disease progression. Understanding endothelial barrier function is critical for vascular homeostasis. Many of the signaling pathways promoting vascular permeability can also be triggered during disease, resulting in prolonged or uncontrolled vascular leak. It is believed that recovery of the normal vasculature requires diminishing this hyperpermeable state. Although the molecular mechanisms governing vascular leak have been studied over the last few decades, recent advances have identified new therapeutic targets that have begun to show preclinical and clinical promise. These approaches have been successfully applied to an increasing number of disease conditions. New perspectives regarding how vascular leak impacts the progression of various diseases are highlighted in this review.

Wang Y, Tadjuidje E, Pandey RN, Stefater JA, Smith LEH, Lang RA, Hegde RS. The Eyes Absent Proteins in Developmental and Pathological Angiogenesis. Am J Pathol 2016;186(3):568-78.Abstract

Management of neoangiogenesis remains a high-value therapeutic goal. A recently uncovered association between the DNA damage repair pathway and pathological angiogenesis could open previously unexplored possibilities for intervention. An attractive and novel target is the Eyes absent (EYA) tyrosine phosphatase, which plays a critical role in the repair versus apoptosis decision after DNA damage. This study examines the role of EYA in the postnatal development of the retinal vasculature and under conditions of ischemia-reperfusion encountered in proliferative retinopathies. We find that the ability of the EYA proteins to promote endothelial cell (EC) migration contributes to a delay in postnatal development of the retinal vasculature when Eya3 is deleted specifically in ECs. By using genetic and chemical biology tools, we show that EYA contributes to pathological angiogenesis in a model of oxygen-induced retinopathy. Both in vivo and in vitro, loss of EYA tyrosine phosphatase activity leads to defective assembly of γ-H2AX foci and thus to DNA damage repair in ECs under oxidative stress. These data reveal the potential utility of EYA tyrosine phosphatase inhibitors as therapeutic agents in inhibiting pathological neovascularization with a range of clinical applications.

Srinivasan S, Chitalia V, Meyer RD, Hartsough E, Mehta M, Harrold I, Anderson N, Feng H, Smith LEH, Jiang Y, Costello CE, Rahimi N. Hypoxia-induced expression of phosducin-like 3 regulates expression of VEGFR-2 and promotes angiogenesis. Angiogenesis 2015;18(4):449-62.Abstract

Expression and activation of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2 (VEGFR-2) by VEGF ligands are the main events in the stimulation of pathological angiogenesis. VEGFR-2 expression is generally low in the healthy adult blood vessels, but its expression is markedly increased in the pathological angiogenesis. In this report, we demonstrate that phosducin-like 3 (PDCL3), a recently identified chaperone protein involved in the regulation of VEGFR-2 expression, is required for angiogenesis in zebrafish and mouse. PDCL3 undergoes N-terminal methionine acetylation, and this modification affects PDCL3 expression and its interaction with VEGFR-2. Expression of PDCL3 is regulated by hypoxia, the known stimulator of angiogenesis. The mutant PDCL3 that is unable to undergo N-terminal methionine acetylation was refractory to the effect of hypoxia. The siRNA-mediated silencing of PDCL3 decreased VEGFR-2 expression resulting in a decrease in VEGF-induced VEGFR-2 phosphorylation, whereas PDCL3 over-expression increased VEGFR-2 protein. Furthermore, we show that PDCL3 protects VEGFR-2 from misfolding and aggregation. The data provide new insights for the chaperone function of PDCL3 in angiogenesis and the roles of hypoxia and N-terminal methionine acetylation in PDCL3 expression and its effect on VEGFR-2.

Liu C-H, Sun Y, Li J, Gong Y, Tian KT, Evans LP, Morss PC, Fredrick TW, Saba NJ, Chen J. Endothelial microRNA-150 is an intrinsic suppressor of pathologic ocular neovascularization. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2015;112(39):12163-8.Abstract

Pathologic ocular neovascularization commonly causes blindness. It is critical to identify the factors altered in pathologically proliferating versus normally quiescent vessels to develop effective targeted therapeutics. MicroRNAs regulate both physiological and pathological angiogenesis through modulating expression of gene targets at the posttranscriptional level. However, it is not completely understood if specific microRNAs are altered in pathologic ocular blood vessels, influencing vascular eye diseases. Here we investigated the potential role of a specific microRNA, miR-150, in regulating ocular neovascularization. We found that miR-150 was highly expressed in normal quiescent retinal blood vessels and significantly suppressed in pathologic neovessels in a mouse model of oxygen-induced proliferative retinopathy. MiR-150 substantially decreased endothelial cell function including cell proliferation, migration, and tubular formation and specifically suppressed the expression of multiple angiogenic regulators, CXCR4, DLL4, and FZD4, in endothelial cells. Intravitreal injection of miR-150 mimic significantly decreased pathologic retinal neovascularization in vivo in both wild-type and miR-150 knockout mice. Loss of miR-150 significantly promoted angiogenesis in aortic rings and choroidal explants ex vivo and laser-induced choroidal neovascularization in vivo. In conclusion, miR-150 is specifically enriched in quiescent normal vessels and functions as an endothelium-specific endogenous inhibitor of pathologic ocular neovascularization.