The Delta-Notch pathway is a signal exchanger between adjacent cells to regulate numerous differentiation steps during embryonic development. Blood vessel formation by sprouting angiogenesis requires high expression of the Notch ligand DLL4 in the leading tip cell, while Notch receptors in the trailing stalk cells are activated by DLL4 to achieve strong Notch signaling activity. Upon ligand binding, Notch receptors are cleaved by ADAM proteases and gamma-secretase. This releases the intracellular Notch domain that acts as a transcription factor. There is evidence that also Notch ligands (DLL1, DLL4, JAG1, JAG2) are processed upon receptor binding to influence transcription in the ligand-expressing cell. Thus, the existence of bi-directional Delta-Notch signaling has been proposed. We report here that the Notch ligands DLL1 and JAG1 are processed in endothelial cells in a gamma-secretase-dependent manner and that the intracellular ligand domains accumulate in the cell nucleus. Overexpression of JAG1 intracellular domain (ICD) as well as DLL1-ICD, DLL4-ICD and NOTCH1-ICD inhibited endothelial proliferation. Whereas NOTCH1-ICD strongly repressed endothelial migration and sprouting angiogenesis, JAG1-ICD, DLL1-ICD and DLL4-ICD had no significant effects. Consistently, global gene expression patterns were only marginally affected by the processed Notch ligands. In addition to its effects as a transcription factor, NOTCH1-ICD promotes cell adhesion to the extracellular matrix in a transcription-independent manner. However, JAG1-ICD, DLL1-ICD and DLL4-ICD did not influence endothelial cell adhesion. In summary, reverse signaling of Notch ligands appears to be dispensable for angiogenesis in cellular systems.
The Notch signaling pathway is a critical component of vascular formation and morphogenesis in both development and disease. Compelling evidence indicates that Notch signaling is required for the induction of arterial-cell fate during development and for the selection of endothelial tip and stalk cells during sprouting angiogenesis. In mammals, two of the four Notch receptors (Notch1 and Notch4) and three of the five Notch ligands (Jagged1, Dll1, and Dll4) are predominantly expressed in vascular endothelial cells and are important for many aspects of vascular biology. During arterial cell-fate selection and angiogenesis, the roles of Notch1 and Notch4 are thought to be similar, and the function of Dll4 is well-characterized. However, the molecular mechanisms that determine the functional similarities and differences of Notch ligands in vascular endothelial cells remain largely unknown; consequently, additional research is needed to elucidate the ligand-specific functions and mechanisms associated with Notch activation in the vascular endothelium. Results from recent studies indicate that Dll1 and Dll4 have distinct roles in the specification and maintenance of arterial cell identity, while Dll4 and Jagged1 have opposing functions in tip- and stalk-cell selection during sprouting angiogenesis. This review will focus on the newly discovered, distinct functions of several Notch ligands in the regulation of blood vessel formation and will provide perspectives for future research in the field.
Delta1, Jagged1, and Jagged2, commonly designated Delta/Serrate/LAG-2 (DSL) proteins, are known to be ligands for Notch1. However, it has been less understood whether they are ligands for Notch receptors other than Notch1. Meanwhile, ligand-induced cleavage and nuclear translocation of the Notch protein are considered to be fundamental for Notch signaling, yet direct observation of the behavior of the Notch molecule after ligand binding, including cleavage and nuclear translocation, has been lacking. In this report, we investigated these issues for Notch2. All of the three DSL proteins bound to endogenous Notch2 on the surface of BaF3 cells, although characteristics of Jagged2 for binding to Notch2 apparently differed from that of Delta1 and Jagged1. After binding, the three DSL proteins induced cleavage of the membrane-spanning subunit of Notch2 (Notch2TM), which occurred within 15 min. In a simultaneous time course, the cleaved fragment of Notch2TM was translocated into the nucleus. Interestingly, the cleaved Notch2 fragment was hyperphosphorylated also in a time-dependent manner. Finally, binding of DSL proteins to Notch2 also activated the transcription of reporter genes driven by the RBP-Jκ-responsive promoter. Together, these data indicate that all of these DSL proteins function as ligands for Notch2. Moreover, the findings of rapid cleavage, nuclear translocation, and phosphorylation of Notch2 after ligand binding facilitate the understanding of the Notch signaling.
Mutations in the DSL (Delta, Serrate, Lag2) Notch (N) ligand Delta-like (Dll) 3 cause skeletal abnormalities in spondylocostal dysostosis, which is consistent with a critical role for N signaling during somitogenesis. Understanding how Dll3 functions is complicated by reports that DSL ligands both activate and inhibit N signaling. In contrast to other DSL ligands, we show that Dll3 does not activate N signaling in multiple assays. Consistent with these findings, Dll3 does not bind to cells expressing any of the four N receptors, and N1 does not bind Dll3-expressing cells. However, in a cell-autonomous manner, Dll3 suppressed N signaling, as was found for other DSL ligands. Therefore, Dll3 functions not as an activator as previously reported but rather as a dedicated inhibitor of N signaling. As an N antagonist, Dll3 promoted Xenopus laevis neurogenesis and inhibited glial differentiation of mouse neural progenitors. Finally, together with the modulator lunatic fringe, Dll3 altered N signaling levels that were induced by other DSL ligands.
Fringe O-fucose-β1,3-N-acetylglucosaminyltransferases modulate Notch signaling by potentiating signaling induced by Delta-like ligands, while inhibiting signaling induced by Serrate/Jagged1 ligands. Based on binding studies, the differential effects of Drosophila fringe (DFng) on Notch signaling are thought to result from alterations in Notch glycosylation that enhance binding of Delta to Notch but reduce Serrate binding. Here, we report that expression of mammalian fringe proteins (Lunatic [LFng], Manic [MFng], or Radical [RFng] Fringe) increased Delta1 binding and activation of Notch1 signaling in 293T and NIH 3T3 cells. Although Jagged1-induced signaling was suppressed by LFng and MFng, RFng enhanced signaling induced by either Delta1 or Jagged1, underscoring the diversity of mammalian fringe glycosyltransferases in regulating signaling downstream of different ligand-receptor combinations. Interestingly, suppression of Jagged1-induced Notch1 signaling did not correlate with changes in Jagged1 binding as found for Delta1. Our data support the idea that fringe glycosylation increases Delta1 binding to potentiate signaling, but we propose that although fringe glycosylation does not reduce Jagged1 binding to Notch1, the resultant ligand–receptor interactions do not effectively promote Notch1 proteolysis required for activation of downstream signaling events.
The Notch receptor and its ligands are key components in a core metazoan signalling pathway which regulates the spatial patterning, timing and outcome of many cell-fate decisions. Ligands contain a disulphide-rich Delta/Serrate/LAG-2 (DSL) domain required for Notch trans-activation or cis-inhibition. Here we report the first X-ray structure of a functional fragment of a Notch ligand, the DSL-EGF3 domains of human Jagged-1 (J-1DSL-EGF3). The structure identifies a highly conserved face of the DSL domain and we show, by functional analysis of Drosophila ligand mutants, that this surface is required for both cis- and trans-regulatory interactions with Notch. We also identify, using NMR, a surface of Notch-1 involved in J-1DSL-EGF3 binding. Our data imply that cis- and trans-regulation may occur through formation of structurally distinct complexes which, unexpectedly, involve the same surfaces on both ligand and receptor.
Tubular sprouting in angiogenesis relies on division of labour between endothelial tip cells, leading and guiding the sprout, and their neighboring stalk cells, which divide and form the vascular lumen. We previously learned how the graded extracellular distribution of heparin-binding vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-A orchestrates and balances tip and stalk cell behavior. Recent data now provided insight into the regulation of tip cell numbers, illustrating how delta-like (Dll)4-Notch signalling functions to limit the explorative tip cell behavior induced by VEGF-A. These data also provided a first answer to the question why not all endothelial cells stimulated by VEGF-A turn into tip cells. Here we review this new model and discuss how VEGF-A and Dll4/Notch signalling may interact dynamically at the cellular level to control vascular patterning.
Notch; angiogenesis; mouse development; VEGF-A; tip cells
Mutations in Notch signaling pathway members cause developmental phenotypes that affect the liver, skeleton, heart, eye, face, kidney, and vasculature. Notch associated disorders include the autosomal dominant, multi-system, Alagille syndrome caused by mutations in both a ligand (Jagged1 (JAG1)) and receptor (NOTCH2) and autosomal recessive spondylocostal dysostosis, caused by mutations in a ligand (Delta-like-3 (DLL3)), as well as several other members of the Notch signaling pathway. Mutations in NOTCH2 have also recently been connected to Hajdu-Cheney syndrome, a dominant disorder causing focal bone destruction, osteoporosis, craniofacial morphology and renal cysts. Mutations in the NOTCH1 receptor are associated with several types of cardiac disease and mutations in NOTCH3 cause the dominant adult onset disorder CADASIL (cerebral autosomal dominant arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leukoencephalopathy), a vascular disorder with onset in the 4th or 5th decades. Studies of these human disorders and their inheritance patterns and types of mutations reveal insights into the mechanisms of Notch signaling.
Alagille syndrome; Spondylocostal dysostosis; Hajdu Cheney; Cardiac disease; Notch signaling
Background & Aims
Ablation of Notch signaling within the intestinal epithelium results in loss of proliferating crypt progenitors, due to their conversion into post-mitotic secretory cells. We aimed to confirm that Notch was active in stem cells (SC), investigate consequences of loss of Notch signaling within the intestinal SC compartment, and identify the physiological ligands of Notch in mouse intestine. Furthermore, we investigated whether the induction of goblet cell differentiation that results from loss of Notch requires the transcription factor Krüppel-like factor 4 (Klf4).
Trasgenic mice that carried a reporter of Notch1 activation were used for lineage tracing experiments. The in vivo functions of the Notch ligands Jagged1 (Jag1), Delta-like1 (Dll1), Delta-like4 (Dll4), and the transcription factor Klf4 were assessed in mice with inducible, gut-specific gene targeting (Vil-Cre-ERT2).
Notch1 signaling was found to be activated in intestinal SC. Although deletion of Jag1 or Dll4 did not perturb the intestinal epithelium, inactivation of Dll1 resulted in a moderate increase in number of goblet cells without noticeable effects of progenitor proliferation. However, simultaneous inactivation of Dll1 and Dll4 resulted in the complete conversion of proliferating progenitors into post-mitotic goblet cells, concomitant with loss of SC (Olfm4+, Lgr5+ and Ascl2+). Klf4 inactivation did not interfere with goblet cell differentiation in adult wild-type or in Notch pathway-deficient gut.
Notch signaling in SC and progenitors is activated by Dll1 and Dll4 ligands and is required for maintenance of intestinal progenitor and SC. Klf4 is dispensable for goblet cell differentiation in intestines of adult Notch-deficient mice.
GI development; knockout mice; intestinal stem cells; gene regulation
Notch signaling regulates vascular development. However, the implication of the Notch ligand Delta-like 4 (Dll4) in postischemic angiogenesis remains unclear.
We investigated the role of Dll4/Notch signaling in reparative angiogenesis using a mouse model of ischemia.
Methods and Results
We found Dll4 weakly expressed in microvascular endothelial cells of normoperfused muscles. Conversely, Dll4 is upregulated following ischemia and localized at the forefront of sprouting capillaries. We analyzed the effect of inhibiting endogenous Dll4 by intramuscular injection of an adenovirus encoding the soluble form of Dll4 extracellular domain (Ad-sDll4). Dll4 inhibition caused the formation of a disorganized, low-perfused capillary network in ischemic muscles. This structural abnormality was associated to delayed blood flow recovery and muscle hypoxia and degeneration. Analysis of microvasculature at early stages of repair revealed that Dll4 inhibition enhances capillary sprouting in a chaotic fashion and causes excessive leukocyte infiltration of ischemic muscles. Furthermore, Dll4 inhibition potentiated the elevation of the leukocyte chemoattractant CXCL1 (chemokine [C-X-C motif] ligand 1) following ischemia, without altering peripheral blood levels of stromal cell–derived factor-1 and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1. In cultured human monocytes, Dll4 induces the transcription of Notch target gene Hes-1 and inhibits the basal and tumor necrosis factor-α-stimulated production of interleukin-8, the human functional homolog of murine CXCL1. The inhibitory effect of Dll4 on interleukin-8 was abolished by DAPT, a Notch inhibitor, or by coculturing activated human monocytes with Ad-sDll4–infected endothelial cells.
Dll4/Notch interaction is essential for proper reparative angiogenesis. Moreover, Dll4/Notch signaling regulates sprouting angiogenesis and coordinates the interaction between inflammation and angiogenesis under ischemic conditions.
Dll4; Notch signaling; angiogenesis; inflammation; ischemia
Notch signaling is required for vascular development and tumor angiogenesis. Although inhibition of the Notch ligand Delta-like 4 can restrict tumor growth and disrupt neo-vasculature, the effect of inhibiting Notch receptor function on angiogenesis has yet to be defined. In this study, we generated a soluble form of the Notch1 receptor (Notch1 decoy) and assessed its effect on angiogenesis in vitro and in vivo. Notch1 decoy expression reduced signaling stimulated by the binding of three distinct Notch ligands to Notch1 and inhibited morphogenesis of endothelial cells overexpressing Notch4. Thus, Notch1 decoy functioned as an antagonist of ligand-dependent Notch signaling. In mice, Notch1 decoy also inhibited vascular endothelial growth factor–induced angiogenesis in skin, establishing a role for Notch receptor function in this process. We tested the effects of Notch1 decoy on tumor angiogenesis using two models: mouse mammary Mm5MT cells overexpressing fibroblast growth factor 4 (Mm5MT-FGF4) and NGP human neuroblastoma cells. Exogenously expressed FGF4 induced Notch ligand expression in Mm5MT cells and xenografts. Notch1 decoy expression did not affect tumorigenicity of Mm5MT-FGF4 cells in vitro but restricted Mm5MT-FGF4 xenograft growth in mice while markedly impairing neoangiogenesis. Similarly, Notch1 decoy expression did not affect NGP cells in vitro but disrupted vessels and decreased tumor viability in vivo. These results strongly suggest that Notch receptor signaling is required for tumor neoangiogenesis and provides a new target for tumor therapy.
Notch signaling drives developmental processes in all metazoans. The receptor binding region of the human Notch ligand Jagged-1 is made of a DSL (Delta/Serrate/Lag-2) domain and two atypical epidermal growth factor (EGF) repeats encoded by two exons, exon 5 and 6, which are out of phase with respect to the EGF domain boundaries.
We determined the 1H-NMR solution structure of the polypeptide encoded by exon 6 of JAG1 and spanning the C-terminal region of EGF1 and the entire EGF2. We show that this single, evolutionary conserved exon defines an autonomous structural unit that, despite the minimal structural context, closely matches the structure of the same region in the entire receptor binding module.
In eukaryotic genomes, exon and domain boundaries usually coincide. We report a case study where this assertion does not hold, and show that the autonomously folding, structural unit is delimited by exon boundaries, rather than by predicted domain boundaries.
Using specific inhibitors established that angiogenesis in the ovarian follicle and corpus luteum is driven by vascular endothelial growth factor. Recently, it has been demonstrated that the Notch ligand, delta-like ligand 4 (Dll4) negatively regulates vascular endothelial growth factor-mediated vessel sprouting and branching. To investigate the role of Dll4 in regulation of the ovarian vasculature, we administered a neutralizing antibody to Dll4 to marmosets at the periovulatory period. The vasculature was examined on luteal d 3 or d 10: angiogenesis was determined by incorporation of bromodeoxyuridine, staining for CD31 and cell death by staining for activated caspase-3. Ovulatory progesterone rises were monitored to determine effects of treatment on luteal function and time to recover normal cycles in a separate group of animals. Additionally, animals were treated in the follicular or midluteal phase to determine effects of Dll4 inhibition on follicular development and luteal function. Controls were treated with human IgG (Fc). Corpora lutea from marmosets treated during the periovulatory period exhibited increased angiogenesis and increased vascular density on luteal d 3, but plasma progesterone was significantly suppressed. By luteal d 10, corpora lutea in treated ovaries were significantly reduced in size, with involution of luteal cells, increased cell death, and suppressed plasma progesterone concentrations. In contrast, initiation of anti-Dll4 treatment during the midluteal phase produced only a slight suppression of progesterone for the remainder of the cycle. Moreover, Dll4 inhibition had no appreciable effect on follicular development. These results show that Dll4 has a specific and critical role in the development of the normal luteal vasculature.
We have analyzed the induction and role of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) by Notch signaling in human papillomavirus (HPV)-derived cancers. Jagged1, in contrast to Delta1, is preferentially upregulated in human cervical tumors. Jagged1 and not Delta1 expression sustained in vivo tumors by HPV16 oncogenes in HaCaT cells. Further, Jagged1 expression correlates with the rapid induction of PI3K-mediated epithelial-mesenchymal transition in both HaCaT cells and a human cervical tumor-derived cell line, suggestive of Delta1;Serrate/Jagged;Lag2 ligand-specific roles. Microarray analysis and dominant-negatives reveal that Notch-PI3K oncogenic functions can be independent of CBF1;Su(H);Lag-1 activation and instead relies on Deltex1, an alternative Notch effector.
In the vasculature, Notch signaling functions as a downstream effecter of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) signaling. VEGF regulates sprouting angiogenesis in part by inducing and activating matrix metalloproteases (MMPs). This study sought to determine if VEGF regulation of MMPs was mediated via Notch signaling and to determine how Notch regulation of MMPs influenced endothelial cell morphogenesis.
Methods and Results
We assessed the relationship between VEGF and Notch signaling in cultured human umbilical vein endothelial cells. Overexpression of VEGF-induced Notch4 and the Notch ligand, Dll4, activated Notch signaling, and altered endothelial cell morphology in a fashion similar to that induced by Notch activation. Expression of a secreted Notch antagonist (Notch1 decoy) suppressed VEGF-mediated activation of endothelial Notch signaling and endothelial morphogenesis. We demonstrate that Notch mediates VEGF-induced matrix metalloprotease activity via induction of MMP9 and MT1-MMP expression and activation of MMP2. Introduction of a MMP inhibitor blocked Notch-mediated endothelial morphogenesis. In mice, analysis of VEGF-induced dermal angiogenesis demonstrated that the Notch1 decoy reduced perivascular MMP9 expression.
Taken together, our data demonstrate that Notch signaling can act downstream of VEGF signaling to regulate endothelial cell morphogenesis via induction and activation of specific MMPs. In a murine model of VEGF-induced dermal angiogenesis, Notch inhibition led to reduced MMP9 expression.
Notch signaling affects many developmental and cellular processes and has been implicated in congenital disorders, stroke, and numerous cancers. The Notch receptor binds its ligands Delta and Serrate and is able to discriminate between them in different contexts. However, the specific domains in Notch responsible for this selectivity are poorly defined. Through genetic screens in Drosophila, we isolated a mutation, Notchjigsaw, that affects Serrate- but not Delta-dependent signaling. Notchjigsaw carries a missense mutation in epidermal growth factor repeat-8 (EGFr-8) and is defective in Serrate binding. A homologous point mutation in mammalian Notch2 also exhibits defects in signaling of a mammalian Serrate homolog, Jagged1. Hence, an evolutionarily conserved valine in EGFr-8 is essential for ligand selectivity and provides a molecular handle to study numerous Notch-dependent signaling events.
Notch and its ligands play critical roles in cell fate determination. Expression of Notch and ligand in vascular endothelium and defects in vascular phenotypes of targeted mutants in the Notch pathway have suggested a critical role for Notch signaling in vasculogenesis and angiogenesis. However, the angiogenic signaling that controls Notch and ligand gene expression is unknown. We show here that vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) but not basic fibroblast growth factor can induce gene expression of Notch1 and its ligand, Delta-like 4 (Dll4), in human arterial endothelial cells. The VEGF-induced specific signaling is mediated through VEGF receptors 1 and 2 and is transmitted via the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt pathway but is independent of mitogen-activated protein kinase and Src tyrosine kinase. Constitutive activation of Notch signaling stabilizes network formation of endothelial cells on Matrigel and enhances formation of vessel-like structures in a three-dimensional angiogenesis model, whereas blocking Notch signaling can partially inhibit network formation. This study provides the first evidence for regulation of Notch/Delta gene expression by an angiogenic growth factor and insight into the critical role of Notch signaling in arteriogenesis and angiogenesis.
A role for the Notch signalling pathway in the formation of arteriovenous malformations during development has been suggested. However, whether Notch signalling is involved in brain arteriovenous malformations in humans remains unclear. Here, we performed immunohistochemistry on surgically resected brain arteriovenous malformations and found that, compared with control brain vascular tissue, Notch-1 signalling was activated in smooth muscle and endothelial cells of the lesional tissue. Western blotting showed an activated form of Notch-1 in brain arteriovenous malformations, irrespective of clinical presentation and with or without preoperative embolization, but not in normal cerebral vessels from controls. In addition, the Notch-1 ligands Jagged-1 and Delta-like-4 and the downstream Notch-1 target Hes-1 were increased in abundance and activated in human brain arteriovenous malformations. Finally, increased angiogenesis was found in adult rats treated with a Notch-1 activator. Our findings suggest that activation of Notch-1 signalling is a phenotypic feature of brain arteriovenous malformations, and that activation of Notch-1 in normal vasculature induces a pro-angiogenic state, which may contribute to the development of vascular malformations.
Notch-1; AVM; human; brain; signalling; angiogenesis
Delta-like ligand 4 (Dll4) is a Notch ligand that is upregulated by hypoxia and vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF-A) and is reported to have a role in tumor angiogenesis. Evidence from xenograft studies suggests that inhibiting Dll4–Notch signalling may overcome resistance to anti-VEGF therapy. The aim of this study was to characterise the expression of Dll4 in colon cancer and to assess whether it is associated with markers of hypoxia and prognosis.
In all, 177 colon cancers were represented in tissue microarrays. Immunohistochemistry was performed using validated antibodies against Dll4, VEGF, hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1α, HIF-2α, prolyl hydroxylase (PHD)1, PHD2, PHD3 and carbonic anhydrase 9 (CA9).
The expression of Dll4 was observed preferentially in the endothelium of 71% (125 out of 175) of colon cancers, but not in the endothelium adjacent to normal mucosa (none out of 107, P<0.0001). The expression of VEGF was significantly associated with HIF-2α (P<0.0001) and Dll4 (P=0.010). Only HIF-2α had a significant multivariate prognostic effect (hazard ratio 1.61, 95% confidence interval 1.01–2.57). Delta-like ligand 4 was also expressed by neoplastic cells, particularly neoplastic goblet cells.
Endothelial expression of Dll4 is not a prognostic factor, but is significantly associated with VEGF. Assessing endothelial Dll4 expression may be critical in predicting response to anti-VEGF therapies.
delta-like ligand 4; colon cancer; hypoxia; angiogenesis; survival
The growth of solid tumors depends on neovascularization. Several therapies targeting tumor angiogenesis have been developed. However, poor response in some tumors and emerging resistance necessitate further investigations of new drug targets. Notch signal pathway plays a pivotal role in vascular development and tumor angiogenesis. Either blockade or forced activation of this pathway can inhibit angiogenesis. As blocking Notch pathway results in the formation of vascular neoplasm, activation of Notch pathway to prevent tumor angiogenesis might be an alternative choice. However, an in vivo deliverable reagent with highly efficient Notch-activating capacity has not been developed. Here, we generated a polypeptide, hD1R, which consists of the Delta-Serrate-Lag-2 fragment of the human Notch ligand Delta-like 1 and an arginine-glycine-aspartate (RGD) motif targeting endothelial cells (ECs). We showed that hD1R could bind to ECs specifically through its RGD motif and effectively triggered Notch signaling in ECs. We demonstrated both in vitro and in vivo that hD1R inhibited angiogenic sprouting and EC proliferation. In tumor-bearing mice, the injection of hD1R effectively repressed tumor growth, most likely through increasing tumor hypoxia and tissue necrosis. The amount and width of vessels reduced remarkably in tumors of mice treated with hD1R. Moreover, vessels in tumors of mice treated with hD1R recruited more NG2+ perivascular cells and were better perfused. Combined application of hD1R and chemotherapy with cisplatin and teniposide revealed that these two treatments had additive antitumor effects. Our study provided a new strategy for antiangiogenic tumor therapy.
Delta-like ligand 4 (DLL4)-Notch signaling plays a key role in tumor neovascular development and angiogenesis during tumor growth. The clinical significance of DLL4 expression in gastric cancer has not been clarified.
Gastric cancer cell lines and 180 gastric cancer patients were enrolled. DLL4 expression in gastric cancer cells and stroma was identified and evaluated immunohistochemically. The association between DLL4 and clinicopathological factors was also assessed.
DLL4 expression was identified in the cellular membrane and cytoplasm of gastric cancer cells by immunoblotting and immunohistochemical staining. DLL4 positivity in cancer cells and stroma was found in 88 (48%) and 41 (22%) of the 180 gastric cancer patients respectively. Both cancer and stromal DLL4 expression significantly correlated with more advanced tumor depth, nodal involvement, and lymphatic and venous invasion. A strongly positive association between cancerous and stromal DLL4 expression was identified (p < 0.01). Both cancerous and stromal DLL4 expression were prognostic markers in gastric cancer as determined by univariate analysis.
Cancerous and stromal DLL4 expression was found in 48% and 22% in gastric cancer, and significantly affected postoperative clinical outcomes. Cancerous and stromal DLL4 expression may be an effective target of anti-DLL4 treatment in gastric cancer.
Delta-like ligand 4; Lymphatic invasion; Lymph node metastases; Gastric cancer; Peritumoral stroma
Sirtuin 1 (SIRT1) acts as a key regulator of vascular endothelial homeostasis, angiogenesis, and endothelial dysfunction. However, the underlying mechanism for SIRT1-mediated lung carcinoma angiogenesis remains unknown. Herein, we report that the nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide 1 (NAD1)-dependent deacetylase SIRT1 can function as an intrinsic negative modulator of Delta-like ligand 4 (DLL4)/Notch signaling in Lewis lung carcinoma (LLC) xenograft-derived vascular endothelial cells (lung cancer-derived ECs).
SIRT1 negatively regulates Notch1 intracellular domain (N1IC) and Notch1 target genes HEY1 and HEY2 in response to Delta-like ligand 4 (DLL4) stimulation. Furthermore, SIRT1 deacetylated and repressed N1IC expression. Quantitative chromatin immunoprecipitation (qChIP) analysis and gene reporter assay demonstrated that SIRT1 bound to one highly conserved region, which was located at approximately −500 bp upstream of the transcriptional start site of Notch1,and repressed Notch1 transcription. Inhibition of endothelial cell growth and sprouting angiogenesis by DLL4/Notch signaling was enhanced in SIRT1-silenced lung cancer-derived EC and rescued by Notch inhibitor DAPT. In vivo, an increase in proangiogenic activity was observed in Matrigel plugs from endothelial-specific SIRT1 knock-in mice. SIRT1 also enhanced tumor neovascularization and tumor growth of LLC xenografts.
Our results show that SIRT1 facilitates endothelial cell branching and proliferation to increase vessel density and promote lung tumor growth through down-regulation of DLL4/Notch signaling and deacetylation of N1IC. Thus, targeting SIRT1 activity or/and gene expression may represent a novel mechanism in the treatment of lung cancer.
Several signaling pathways including the Notch pathway can modulate Toll-like receptor (TLR) activation to achieve responses most appropriate for the environment. One mechanism of TLR-Notch crosstalk is TLR-induced expression of Notch ligands Jagged and Delta that feed back to engage Notch receptors on TLR-activated cells. In this study, we investigated mechanisms by which TLRs induce Notch ligand expression in primary macrophages. TLRs induced Jagged1 expression rapidly and independently of new protein synthesis. Jagged1 induction was augmented by interferon (IFN)-γ, was partially dependent on canonical TLR-activated NF-κB and MAPK signaling pathways, and elevated Jagged1 expression augmented TLR-induced IL-6 production. Strikingly, TLR-induced Jagged1 expression was strongly dependent on the Notch master transcriptional regulator RBP-J, and also on upstream components of the Notch pathway γ-secretase and Notch1 and Notch2 receptors. Thus, Jagged1 is an RBP-J target gene that is activated in a binary manner by TLR and Notch pathways. Early and direct cooperation between TLR and Notch pathways leads to Jagged1-RBP-J-mediated autoamplification of Notch signaling that can modulate later phases of the TLR response.
Neo-blood vessel growth (angiogenesis), which may involve the activation of pre-existing endothelial cells (EC) and/or the recruitment of bone marrow-derived vascular precursor cells (BM-VPC), is essential for tumor growth. Molecularly, besides the well established roles for Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), recent findings show the Notch signalling pathway, in particular the ligand Delta-like 4 (Dll4), is also essential for adequate tumor angiogenesis; Dll4 inhibition results in impaired, non-functional, angiogenesis and reduced tumor growth. However, the role of BM-VPC in the setting of Notch pathway modulation was not addressed and is the subject of the present report. Here we show that SDF-1 and VEGF, which are produced by tumors, increase Dll4 expression on recruited BM-VPC. Mechanistically, BM-VPC activated, in a Dll4-dependent manner, a transcriptional program on mature EC suggestive of EC activation and stabilization. BM-VPC induced ICAM-2 and Fibronectin expression on EC, an effect that was blocked by a Dll4-specific neutralizing antibody. In vivo, transplantation of BM-VPC with decreased Dll4 into tumor-bearing mice resulted in the formation of microvessels with decreased pericyte coverage and reduced fibronectin expression. Consequently, transplantation of BM-VPC with decreased Dll4 resulted in impaired tumor angiogenesis, increased tumor hypoxia and apoptosis, and decreased tumor growth. Taken together, our data suggests that Dll4 expression by BM-VPC affects their communication with tumor vessel endothelial cells, thereby modulating tumor angiogenesis by affecting vascular stability.
Notch signaling is critical for cell fate decisions during development. Caenorhabditis elegans and vertebrate Notch ligands are more diverse than classical Drosophila Notch ligands, suggesting possible functional complexities. Here, we describe a developmental role in Notch signaling for OSM-11, which has been previously implicated in defecation and osmotic resistance in C. elegans. We find that complete loss of OSM-11 causes defects in vulval precursor cell (VPC) fate specification during vulval development consistent with decreased Notch signaling. OSM-11 is a secreted, diffusible protein that, like previously described C. elegans Delta, Serrate, and LAG-2 (DSL) ligands, can interact with the lineage defective-12 (LIN-12) Notch receptor extracellular domain. Additionally, OSM-11 and similar C. elegans proteins share a common motif with Notch ligands from other species in a sequence defined here as the Delta and OSM-11 (DOS) motif. osm-11 loss-of-function defects in vulval development are exacerbated by loss of other DOS-motif genes or by loss of the Notch ligand DSL-1, suggesting that DOS-motif and DSL proteins act together to activate Notch signaling in vivo. The mammalian DOS-motif protein Deltalike1 (DLK1) can substitute for OSM-11 in C. elegans development, suggesting that DOS-motif function is conserved across species. We hypothesize that C. elegans OSM-11 and homologous proteins act as coactivators for Notch receptors, allowing precise regulation of Notch receptor signaling in developmental programs in both vertebrates and invertebrates.
The classic view of Notch receptor activation involves receptor binding to transmembrane Notch ligands that contain a conserved DSL (Delta, Serrate, and LAG-2) domain. Here, we find that the Caenorhabditis elegans OSM-11 protein is a novel ligand of the well-characterized Notch signal transduction pathway and plays a role in cell fate specification during development. OSM-11 is a secreted, diffusible protein whose loss decreases Notch signaling in vivo. OSM-11 and related C. elegans proteins do not contain a DSL domain, but contain a conserved motif we have named DOS (Delta and OSM-11) that is also found in the extracellular domain of known Notch ligands in organisms other than C. elegans. The functional mammalian homolog of OSM-11 is the secreted protein Deltalike1 (Dlk1), also known as Preadipocyte Factor 1 (PREF1), which plays a poorly defined role in Notch signaling regulating obesity and other developmental decisions. This suggests that Notch ligands are split into two complementary coligand families that act together to regulate Notch signaling in developmental contexts. In addition to regulating development, DOS ligands play roles in osmotic stress and C. elegans behavior, suggesting previously unsuspected roles for Notch signaling across species.
The C. elegans OSM-11 protein acts with DSL ligands to activate Notch signaling in cell fate specification and defines a conserved family of potential Notch co-ligands.