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1.  Neuropilins 
Cell Adhesion & Migration  2007;1(2):56-61.
It is now well-established that neuropilins (NRP1 and NRP2), first described as mediators of neuronal guidance, are also mediators of angiogenesis and tumor progression. NRPs are receptors for the class-3 semaphorin (SEMA) family of axon guidance molecules and also for the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) family of angiogenic factors. VEGF-NRP interactions promote developmental angiogenesis as shown in mouse knockout and zebrafish knockdown studies. There is also evidence that NRPs mediate tumor progression. For example, overexpression of NRP1 enhances tumor growth whereas NRP1 antagonists, such as soluble NRP1 and anti-NRP1 antibodies, inhibit tumor growth. Furthermore, some class-3 SEMAs acting via NRPs inhibit tumor angiogenesis, progression and metastasis. Clinical data suggest that high NRP levels correlate with poor prognosis and survival in a variety of cancer types. Taken together, these results suggest that NRPs are potentially valuable targets for new anti-cancer therapies. We analyze here the current knowledge on NRPs and their role in angiogenesis and tumor progression and enumerate strategies for targeting these receptors.
PMCID: PMC2633972  PMID: 19329879
neuropilin; semaphorin; VEGF; angiogenesis; axon guidance; cancer; metastasis
2.  Mechanism of Selective VEGF-A Binding by Neuropilin-1 Reveals a Basis for Specific Ligand Inhibition 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e49177.
Neuropilin (Nrp) receptors function as essential cell surface receptors for the Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) family of proangiogenic cytokines and the semaphorin 3 (Sema3) family of axon guidance molecules. There are two Nrp homologues, Nrp1 and Nrp2, which bind to both overlapping and distinct members of the VEGF and Sema3 family of molecules. Nrp1 specifically binds the VEGF-A164/5 isoform, which is essential for developmental angiogenesis. We demonstrate that VEGF-A specific binding is governed by Nrp1 residues in the b1 coagulation factor domain surrounding the invariant Nrp C-terminal arginine binding pocket. Further, we show that Sema3F does not display the Nrp-specific binding to the b1 domain seen with VEGF-A. Engineered soluble Nrp receptor fragments that selectively sequester ligands from the active signaling complex are an attractive modality for selectively blocking the angiogenic and chemorepulsive functions of Nrp ligands. Utilizing the information on Nrp ligand binding specificity, we demonstrate Nrp constructs that specifically sequester Sema3 in the presence of VEGF-A. This establishes that unique mechanisms are used by Nrp receptors to mediate specific ligand binding and that these differences can be exploited to engineer soluble Nrp receptors with specificity for Sema3.
PMCID: PMC3493496  PMID: 23145112
3.  Semaphorin, neuropilin and VEGF expression in glial tumours: SEMA3G, a prognostic marker? 
British Journal of Cancer  2008;99(7):1153-1160.
Gliomas are characterised by local infiltration, migration of tumour cells across long distances and sustained angiogenesis; therefore, proteins involved in these processes are most likely important. Such candidates are semaphorins involved in axon guidance and cell migration. In addition, semaphorins regulate tumour progression and angiogenesis. For cell signalling, class-4 semaphorins bind directly to plexins, whereas class-3 semaphorins require additional neuropilin (NRP) receptors that also bind VEGF165. The anti-angiogenic activity of class-3 semaphorins can be explained by competition with VEGF165 for NRP binding. In this study, we analysed the expressions of seven semaphorins of class-3, SEMA4D, VEGF and the NRP1 and NRP2 receptors in 38 adult glial tumours. In these tumours, SEMA3B, SEMA3G and NRP2 expressions were related to prolonged survival. In addition, SEMA3D expression was reduced in high-grade as compared with low-grade gliomas. In contrast, VEGF correlated with higher grade and poor survival. Thus, our data suggest a function for a subset of class-3 semaphorins as inhibitors of tumour progression, and the prognostic value of the VEGF/SEMA3 balance in adult gliomas. Moreover, in multivariate analysis, SEMA3G was found to be the only significant prognostic marker.
PMCID: PMC2567090  PMID: 18781179
adult gliomas; semaphorin; neuropilin; VEGF
4.  Neuropilin-1 Mediates Collapsin-1/Semaphorin III Inhibition of Endothelial Cell Motility 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1999;146(1):233-242.
Neuropilin-1 (NRP1) is a receptor for two unrelated ligands with disparate activities, vascular endothelial growth factor-165 (VEGF165), an angiogenesis factor, and semaphorin/collapsins, mediators of neuronal guidance. To determine whether semaphorin/collapsins could interact with NRP1 in nonneuronal cells, the effects of recombinant collapsin-1 on endothelial cells (EC) were examined. Collapsin-1 inhibited the motility of porcine aortic EC (PAEC) expressing NRP1 alone; coexpressing KDR and NRP1 (PAEC/KDR/NRP1), but not parental PAEC; or PAEC expressing KDR alone. The motility of PAEC expressing NRP1 was inhibited by 65–75% and this inhibition was abrogated by anti-NRP1 antibody. In contrast, VEGF165 stimulated the motility of PAEC/KDR/NRP1. When VEGF165 and collapsin-1 were added simultaneously to PAEC/KDR/NRP1, dorsal root ganglia (DRG), and COS-7/NRP1 cells, they competed with each other in EC motility, DRG collapse, and NRP1-binding assays, respectively, suggesting that the two ligands have overlapping NRP1 binding sites. Collapsin-1 rapidly disrupted the formation of lamellipodia and induced depolymerization of F-actin in an NRP1-dependent manner. In an in vitro angiogenesis assay, collapsin-1 inhibited the capillary sprouting of EC from rat aortic ring segments. These results suggest that collapsin-1 can inhibit EC motility as well as axon motility, that these inhibitory effects on motility are mediated by NRP1, and that VEGF165 and collapsin-1 compete for NRP1-binding sites.
PMCID: PMC2199727  PMID: 10402473
angiogenesis; chemotaxis; KDR; neuronal guidance; growth cones
5.  Neuropilin ligands in vascular and neuronal patterning 
Biochemical Society transactions  2009;37(Pt 6):1228-1232.
Blood vessels and neurons share guidance cues and cell surface receptors to control their behaviour during embryogenesis. The transmembrane protein neuropilin 1 (NRP1) is present on both blood vessels and nerves and binds two structurally diverse ligands, the class 3 semaphorin SEMA3A and the VEGF164 isoform of the vascular endothelial growth factor VEGF (VEGF-A). In vitro, SEMA3A competes with VEGF164 for binding to NRP1 to modulate the migration of endothelial cells and neuronal progenitors. It was therefore hypothesised that NRP1 signalling controls neurovascular co-patterning by integrating competing VEGF164 and SEMA3A signals. However, SEMA3A, but not VEGF164, is required for axon patterning of motor and sensory nerves, and, vice versa, VEGF164 rather than SEMA3A is required for blood vessel development. Ligand competition for NRP1 therefore does not explain neurovascular congruence. Instead, these ligands control different aspects of neurovascular patterning that impact on cardiovascular function. Thus, SEMA3A/NRP1 signalling guides the neural crest cell (NCC) precursors of sympathetic neurons as well as their axonal projections. In addition, VEGF164 and a second class 3 semaphorin termed SEMA3C contribute to the remodelling of the embryonic pharyngeal arch arteries and primitive heart outflow tract by acting on endothelium and NCCs, respectively. Consequently, loss of either of these NRP1 ligands disrupts blood flow into and out of the heart. Multiple NRP1 ligands therefore cooperate to orchestrate cardiovascular morphogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3512079  PMID: 19909252
neuropilin; VEGF; semaphorin; neuron; blood vessel; neural crest
6.  Selective requirements for NRP1 ligands during neurovascular patterning 
Development (Cambridge, England)  2007;134(10):1833-1843.
Blood vessels and neurons share several types of guidance cues and cell surface receptors to control their behaviour during embryogenesis. The transmembrane protein NRP1 is present on blood vessels and nerves. NRP1 binds two structurally diverse ligands, the semaphorin SEMA3A and the VEGF164 isoform of vascular endothelial growth factor. SEMA3A was originally identified as a repulsive cue for developing axons that acts by signalling through receptor complexes containing NRP1 and plexins. In vitro, SEMA3A also inhibits integrin function and competes with VEGF164 for binding to NRP1 to modulate the migration of endothelial cells. These observations resulted in a widely accepted model of vascular patterning in which the balance of VEGF164 and SEMA3A determines endothelial cell behaviour. However, we now demonstrate that SEMA3A is not required for angiogenesis in the mouse, which instead is controlled by VEGF164. We find that SEMA3A, but not VEGF164, is required for axon patterning of limb nerves, even though the competition between VEGF164 and SEMA3A for NRP1 affects the migration of neuronal progenitor cells in vitro and has been hypothesised to control axon guidance. Moreover, we show that there is no genetic interaction between SEMA3A and VEGF164 during vasculogenesis, angiogenesis or limb axon patterning, suggesting that ligand competition for NRP1 binding cannot explain neurovascular congruence, as previously suggested. We conclude that NRP1 contributes to both neuronal and vascular patterning by preferentially relaying SEMA3A signals in peripheral axons and VEGF164 signals in blood vessels.
PMCID: PMC2702678  PMID: 17428830
VEGF; Neuropilin; Semaphorin; Mouse
7.  VEGF induces sensory and motor peripheral plasticity, alters bladder function, and promotes visceral sensitivity 
BMC Physiology  2012;12:15.
This work tests the hypothesis that bladder instillation with vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) modulates sensory and motor nerve plasticity, and, consequently, bladder function and visceral sensitivity.
In addition to C57BL/6J, ChAT-cre mice were used for visualization of bladder cholinergic nerves. The direct effect of VEGF on the density of sensory nerves expressing the transient receptor potential vanilloid subfamily 1 (TRPV1) and cholinergic nerves (ChAT) was studied one week after one or two intravesical instillations of the growth factor.
To study the effects of VEGF on bladder function, mice were intravesically instilled with VEGF and urodynamic evaluation was assessed. VEGF-induced alteration in bladder dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons was performed on retrogradly labeled urinary bladder afferents by patch-clamp recording of voltage gated Na+ currents. Determination of VEGF-induced changes in sensitivity to abdominal mechanostimulation was performed by application of von Frey filaments.
In addition to an overwhelming increase in TRPV1 immunoreactivity, VEGF instillation resulted in an increase in ChAT-directed expression of a fluorescent protein in several layers of the urinary bladder. Intravesical VEGF caused a profound change in the function of the urinary bladder: acute VEGF (1 week post VEGF treatment) reduced micturition pressure and longer treatment (2 weeks post-VEGF instillation) caused a substantial reduction in inter-micturition interval. In addition, intravesical VEGF resulted in an up-regulation of voltage gated Na+ channels (VGSC) in bladder DRG neurons and enhanced abdominal sensitivity to mechanical stimulation.
For the first time, evidence is presented indicating that VEGF instillation into the mouse bladder promotes a significant increase in peripheral nerve density together with alterations in bladder function and visceral sensitivity. The VEGF pathway is being proposed as a key modulator of neural plasticity in the pelvis and enhanced VEGF content may be associated with visceral hyperalgesia, abdominal discomfort, and/or pelvic pain.
PMCID: PMC3543727  PMID: 23249422
8.  Neuropilin 1 (NRP1) hypomorphism combined with defective VEGF-A binding reveals novel roles for NRP1 in developmental and pathological angiogenesis 
Development (Cambridge, England)  2014;141(3):556-562.
Neuropilin 1 (NRP1) is a receptor for class 3 semaphorins and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) A and is essential for cardiovascular development. Biochemical evidence supports a model for NRP1 function in which VEGF binding induces complex formation between NRP1 and VEGFR2 to enhance endothelial VEGF signalling. However, the relevance of VEGF binding to NRP1 for angiogenesis in vivo has not yet been examined. We therefore generated knock-in mice expressing Nrp1 with a mutation of tyrosine (Y) 297 in the VEGF binding pocket of the NRP1 b1 domain, as this residue was previously shown to be important for high affinity VEGF binding and NRP1-VEGFR2 complex formation. Unexpectedly, this targeting strategy also severely reduced NRP1 expression and therefore generated a NRP1 hypomorph. Despite the loss of VEGF binding and attenuated NRP1 expression, homozygous Nrp1Y297A/Y297A mice were born at normal Mendelian ratios, arguing against NRP1 functioning exclusively as a VEGF164 receptor in embryonic angiogenesis. By overcoming the mid-gestation lethality of full Nrp1-null mice, homozygous Nrp1Y297A/Y297A mice revealed essential roles for NRP1 in postnatal angiogenesis and arteriogenesis in the heart and retina, pathological neovascularisation of the retina and angiogenesis-dependent tumour growth.
PMCID: PMC3899814  PMID: 24401374
NRP1; VEGF; Angiogenesis; Arteriogenesis; Retina; Hindbrain
9.  Role of the neuropilin ligands VEGF164 and SEMA3A in neuronal and vascular patterning in the mouse 
Novartis Foundation symposium  2007;283:230-241.
Blood vessels and neurons use similar guidance cues to control their behaviour during embryogenesis. The semaphorin SEMA3A was originally identified as a repulsive cue for developing axons that acts by signalling through receptor complexes containing NRP1 and A-type plexins. SEMA3A also competes with the VEGF164 isoform of vascular endothelial growth factor for binding to NRP1 to modulate the migration of endothelial cells in vitro. Surprisingly, we have found that SEMA3A and semaphorin-signalling through NRP1 were not required for blood vessel development in the mouse. Moreover, we found that there was no genetic interaction between SEMA3A and VEGF164 during vasculogenesis or angiogenesis. Our observations suggest that in vivo vascular NRP1 preferentially confers VEGF164 signals, whilst axonal NRP1 preferentially transmits SEMA3A signals.
PMCID: PMC2953635  PMID: 18300426
semaphorin; VEGF; VEGF164; neuropilin; angiogenesis; vasculogenesis; blood vessel; nerve; axon
10.  VEGF Signaling through Neuropilin 1 Guides Commissural Axon Crossing at the Optic Chiasm 
Neuron  2011;70(5):951-965.
During development, the axons of retinal ganglion cell (RGC) neurons must decide whether to cross or avoid the midline at the optic chiasm to project to targets on both sides of the brain. By combining genetic analyses with in vitro assays, we show that neuropilin 1 (NRP1) promotes contralateral RGC projection in mammals. Unexpectedly, the NRP1 ligand involved is not an axon guidance cue of the class 3 semaphorin family, but VEGF164, the neuropilin-binding isoform of the classical vascular growth factor VEGF-A. VEGF164 is expressed at the chiasm midline and is required for normal contralateral growth in vivo. In outgrowth and growth cone turning assays, VEGF164 acts directly on NRP1-expressing contralateral RGCs to provide growth-promoting and chemoattractive signals. These findings have identified a permissive midline signal for axons at the chiasm midline and provide in vivo evidence that VEGF-A is an essential axon guidance cue.
► NRP1 is expressed by contralateral mouse retinal ganglion cell axons ► NRP1 promotes commissural axon crossing at the optic chiasm as a VEGF164 receptor ► VEGF164 acts directly on retinal growth cones as an attractive guidance signal ► VEGF164 and NRP1 are essential for normal contralateral axon growth in vivo
PMCID: PMC3114076  PMID: 21658587
11.  Function of the Neuropilin Family as Essential Pleiotropic Cell Surface Receptors† 
Biochemistry  2012;51(47):9437-9446.
The neuropilin (Nrp) family are essential multifunctional vertebrate cell surface receptors. Nrps were initially characterized as receptors for class III Semaphorin (Sema3) family members, functioning in axon guidance. Nrps have also been shown to be critical for Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) dependent angiogenesis. Intriguingly, recent data show that Nrp function in these seemingly divergent pathways is critically determined by ligand-mediated cross-talk, which underlies Nrp function in both physiological and pathological processes. In addition to functioning in these two pathways, Nrps have been shown to specifically function in a number of other fundamental signaling pathways as well. Multiple general mechanisms have been found to directly contribute to the pleiotropic function of Nrp. Here we review critical general features of Nrps function as essential receptors integrating multiple molecular cues into diverse cellular signaling.
PMCID: PMC3510667  PMID: 23116416
12.  Neuropilins are multifunctional coreceptors involved in tumor initiation, growth, metastasis and immunity 
Oncotarget  2012;3(9):921-939.
The neuropilins (Nrps) are multifunctional proteins involved in development, immunity and cancer. Neuropilin-1 (Nrp1), or its homologue neuropilin-2 (Nrp2), are coreceptors that enhance responses to several growth factors (GFs) and other mediators. Nrps are coreceptors for the class 3 semaphorins (SEMA3), involved in axonal guidance, and several members of the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) family. However, recent findings reveal they have a much broader spectrum of activity. They bind transforming growth factor β1 (TGF-β1) and its receptors, hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) and its receptor (cMet), platelet derived growth factor (PDGF) and its receptors, fibroblast growth factors (FGFs), and integrins. Nrps also promote Hedgehog signaling. These ligands and pathways are all relevant to angiogenesis and wound healing. In the immune system, the Nrps are expressed primarily by dendritic cells (DCs) and regulatory T cells (Tregs), and exert mainly inhibitory effects. In cancer, Nrps have been linked to a poor prognosis, which is consistent with their numerous interactions with ligands and receptors that promote tumor progression. We hypothesize that Nrps boost responses by capturing ligands, regulating GF receptor expression, endocytosis and recycling, and possibly also by signaling independently. Importantly, they promote epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), and the survival of cancer stem cells. The recent finding that Nrps bind and internalize cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) with arginine/lysine-rich C-terminal motifs (C-end rule; e.g., RXXR) is of interest. These CPPs can be coupled to large drugs for cancer therapy. Almost all studies have been preclinical, but findings suggest Nrps are excellent targets for anti-cancer drug development.
PMCID: PMC3660061  PMID: 22948112
angiogenesis; cancer stem cell; growth factor; neuropilin; semaphorin; TGF-beta; VEGF
13.  Neuropilin-1/GIPC1 Signaling Regulates α5β1 Integrin Traffic and Function in Endothelial Cells 
PLoS Biology  2009;7(1):e1000025.
Neuropilin 1 (Nrp1) is a coreceptor for vascular endothelial growth factor A165 (VEGF-A165, VEGF-A164 in mice) and semaphorin 3A (SEMA3A). Nevertheless, Nrp1 null embryos display vascular defects that differ from those of mice lacking either VEGF-A164 or Sema3A proteins. Furthermore, it has been recently reported that Nrp1 is required for endothelial cell (EC) response to both VEGF-A165 and VEGF-A121 isoforms, the latter being incapable of binding Nrp1 on the EC surface. Taken together, these data suggest that the vascular phenotype caused by the loss of Nrp1 could be due to a VEGF-A164/SEMA3A-independent function of Nrp1 in ECs, such as adhesion to the extracellular matrix. By using RNA interference and rescue with wild-type and mutant constructs, we show here that Nrp1 through its cytoplasmic SEA motif and independently of VEGF-A165 and SEMA3A specifically promotes α5β1-integrin-mediated EC adhesion to fibronectin that is crucial for vascular development. We provide evidence that Nrp1, while not directly mediating cell spreading on fibronectin, interacts with α5β1 at adhesion sites. Binding of the homomultimeric endocytic adaptor GAIP interacting protein C terminus, member 1 (GIPC1), to the SEA motif of Nrp1 selectively stimulates the internalization of active α5β1 in Rab5-positive early endosomes. Accordingly, GIPC1, which also interacts with α5β1, and the associated motor myosin VI (Myo6) support active α5β1 endocytosis and EC adhesion to fibronectin. In conclusion, we propose that Nrp1, in addition to and independently of its role as coreceptor for VEGF-A165 and SEMA3A, stimulates through its cytoplasmic domain the spreading of ECs on fibronectin by increasing the Rab5/GIPC1/Myo6-dependent internalization of active α5β1. Nrp1 modulation of α5β1 integrin function can play a causal role in the generation of angiogenesis defects observed in Nrp1 null mice.
Author Summary
The vascular system is a hierarchical network of blood vessels lined by endothelial cells that, by means of the transmembrane integrin proteins, bind to the surrounding proteinaceous extracellular matrix (ECM). Integrins are required for proper cardiovascular development and exist in bent (inactive) and extended (active) shapes that are correspondingly unable and able to attach to the ECM. Extracellular guidance cues, such as vascular endothelial growth factor and semaphorins, bind the transmembrane protein neuropilin-1 (Nrp1) and then activate biochemical signals that, respectively, activate or inactivate endothelial integrins. Here, we show that Nrp1, via its short cytoplasmic domain and independently of vascular endothelial growth factor and semaphorins, specifically promotes endothelial cell attachment to the ECM protein fibronectin, which is known to be crucial for vascular development. Notably, Nrp1 favors cell adhesion by associating with fibronectin-binding integrins and promoting the fast vesicular traffic of their extended form back and forth from the endothelial cell-to-ECM contacts. Binding of the Nrp1 cytoplasmic domain with the adaptor protein GIPC1, which in turn associates with proteins required for integrin internalization and vesicle motility, is required as well. It is likely that such an integrin treadmill could act as a major regulator of cell adhesion in general.
The transmembrane protein neuropilin-1 promotes endothelial cell attachment to the extracellular matrix by enhancing active integrin treadmilling at cell-adhesion sites.
PMCID: PMC2631072  PMID: 19175293
14.  Neuropilin 1 and 2 control cranial gangliogenesis and axon guidance through neural crest cells 
Development (Cambridge, England)  2008;135(9):1605-1613.
Neuropilin (NRP) receptors and their class 3 semaphorin (SEMA3) ligands play well-established roles in axon guidance, with loss of NRP1, NRP2, SEMA3A or SEMA3F causing defasciculation and errors in growth cone guidance of peripherally projecting nerves. Here we report that loss of NRP1 or NRP2 also impairs sensory neuron positioning in the mouse head, and that this defect is a consequence of inappropriate cranial neural crest cell migration. Specifically, neural crest cells move into the normally crest-free territory between the trigeminal and hyoid neural crest streams and recruit sensory neurons from the otic placode; these ectopic neurons then extend axons between the trigeminal and facioacoustic ganglia. Moreover, we found that NRP1 and NRP2 cooperate to guide cranial neural crest cells and position sensory neurons; thus, in the absence of SEMA3/NRP signalling, the segmentation of the cranial nervous system is lost. We conclude that neuropilins play multiple roles in the sensory nervous system by directing cranial neural crest cells, positioning sensory neurons and organising their axonal projections.
PMCID: PMC2705499  PMID: 18356247
Neural crest cell; Placode; Peripheral nervous system; Sensory neuron; Axon guidance; Neuropilin; Semaphorin; Mouse
15.  Identification of two novel alternatively spliced Neuropilin-1 isoforms 
Genomics  2004;84(1):82-94.
Neuropilin-1 (NRP1) is a coreceptor to a tyrosine kinase receptor for both the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) family and semaphorin (Sema) family members. NRP1 plays versatile roles in angiogenesis, axon guidance, cell survival, migration, and invasion. NRP1 contains three distinct extracellular domains, a1a2, b1b2, and c. We report here the identification of two novel soluble human NRP1 isoforms, which we named sIIINRP1 and sIVNRP1. These soluble NRP1 isoforms were generated by alternative splicing of the NRP1 gene, a common regulatory mechanism occurring in cell surface receptor families. Both sIIINRP1 and sIVNRP1 contain a1a2 and b1b2 domains, but no c domain, and the rest of the NRP1 sequence. Additionally, sIIINRP1 is missing 48 amino acids within the C-terminus of the b2 domain. Both sIIINRP1 and sIVNRP1 are expressed in human cancerous and normal tissues. These molecules are capable of binding to VEGF165 and Sema3A. Furthermore, recombinant sIIINRP1 and sIVNRP1 proteins inhibit NRP1-mediated MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cell migration. These results indicate the multiple levels of regulation in NRP1 function and suggest that these two novel NRP1 isoforms are useful antagonists for NRP1-mediated cellular activities.
PMCID: PMC2868064  PMID: 15203206
Neuropilin-1; VEGF receptor; Angiogenesis; Cell migration
16.  NRP1 and NRP2 cooperate to regulate gangliogenesis, axon guidance and target innervation in the sympathetic nervous system 
Developmental Biology  2012;369(2):277-285.
The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) arises from neural crest (NC) cells during embryonic development and innervates the internal organs of vertebrates to modulate their stress response. NRP1 and NRP2 are receptors for guidance cues of the class 3 semaphorin (SEMA) family and are expressed in partially overlapping patterns in sympathetic NC cells and their progeny. By comparing the phenotypes of mice lacking NRP1 or its ligand SEMA3A with mice lacking NRP1 in the sympathetic versus vascular endothelial cell lineages, we demonstrate that SEMA3A signalling through NRP1 has multiple cell-autonomous roles in SNS development. These roles include neuronal cell body positioning, neuronal aggregation and axon guidance, first during sympathetic chain assembly and then to regulate the innervation of the heart and aorta. Loss of NRP2 or its ligand SEMA3F impaired sympathetic gangliogenesis more mildly than loss of SEMA3A/NRP1 signalling, but caused ectopic neurite extension along the embryonic aorta. The analysis of compound mutants lacking SEMA3A and SEMA3F or NRP1 and NRP2 in the SNS demonstrated that both signalling pathways cooperate to organise the SNS. We further show that abnormal sympathetic development in mice lacking NRP1 in the sympathetic lineage has functional consequences, as it causes sinus bradycardia, similar to mice lacking SEMA3A.
► NRP1 and NRP2 are co-expressed in sympathetic neurons and their precursors. ► SEMA3A signals through NRP1 to regulate sympathetic gangliogenesis and axon guidance. ► SEMA3F signals through NRP2 to regulate sympathetic axon guidance. ► SEMA3A/NRP1 and SEMA3F/NRP2 act synergistically in sympathetic nervous system patterning. ► Abnormal sympathetic innervation of the heart leads to bradycardia in NRP1 mutants.
PMCID: PMC3430865  PMID: 22790009
Neuropilin; Semaphorin; Neural crest cell; Sympathetic nervous system; Heart; Aorta; Mouse
17.  Epidermal Expression of Neuropilin 1 Protects Murine keratinocytes from UVB-induced apoptosis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e50944.
Neuropilin 1 (NRP1) is expressed on several cell types including neurons and endothelial cells, where it functions as an important regulator in development and during angiogenesis. As a cell surface receptor, NRP1 is able to bind to members of the VEGF family of growth factors and to secreted class 3 semaphorins. Neuropilin 1 is also highly expressed in keratinocytes, but the function of NRP1 in epidermal physiology and pathology is still unclear.
Methods and Results
To elucidate the role of NRP1 in skin in vivo we generated an epidermis-specific neuropilin 1 knock out mouse model by using the Cre-LoxP-System. Mice were viable and fertile and did not display any obvious skin or hair defects. After challenge with UVB irradiation, we found that deletion of epidermal NRP1 leads to increased rates of apoptosis both in vitro and in vivo. NRP1-deficient primary keratinocytes cultured in vitro showed significantly higher rates of apoptosis 24 hours after UVB. Likewise, there is a significant increase of active caspase 3 positive cells in the epidermis of Keratin 14-Cre-NRP1 (−/−) mice 24 hours after UVB irradiation. By Western Blot analysis we could show that NRP1 influences the cytosolic levels of Bcl-2, a pro-survival member of the Bcl-2 family. After UVB irradiation the amounts of Bcl-2 decrease in both protein extracts from murine epidermis and in NRP1-deficient keratinocytes in vitro, whereas wild type cells retain their Bcl-2 levels. Likewise, levels of phospho-Erk and Rac1 were lower in NRP1-knock out keratinocytes, whereas levels of pro-apoptotic p53 were higher.
NRP1 expression in keratinocytes is dispensable for normal skin development. Upon UVB challenge, NRP1 contributes to the prevention of keratinocyte apoptosis. This pro-survival function of NRP1 is accompanied by the maintenance of high levels of the antiapoptotic regulator Bcl-2 and by lower levels of pro-apoptotic p53.
PMCID: PMC3518474  PMID: 23251405
18.  Identification of circulating neuropilin-1 and dose-dependent elevation following anti-neuropilin-1 antibody administration 
mAbs  2009;1(4):364-369.
Neuropilin-1 (NRP1) acts as a co-receptor for class 3 semaphorins and vascular endothelial growth factor and is an attractive angiogenesis target for cancer therapy. In addition to the transmembrane form, naturally occurring soluble NRP1 proteins containing part of the extracellular domain have been identified in tissues and a cell line. We developed ELISAs to study the existence of circulating NRP1 and to quantify it in serum. As measured by ELISAs, circulating NRP1 levels in mice, rats, monkeys and humans were 427 ± 77, 20 ± 3, 288 ± 86 and 322 ± 82 ng/ml (mean ± standard deviation; n ≥ 10), respectively. Anti-NRP1B, a human monoclonal antibody, has been selected from a synthetic phage library. A 4-fold increase in circulating NRP1 was observed in mice receiving a single dose of 10 mg/kg anti-NRP1B antibody. In rats and monkeys receiving single injections of anti-NRP1B at different dose levels, higher doses of antibody resulted in greater and more prolonged increases in circulating NRP1. Maximum increases were 56- and 7-fold for rats and monkeys receiving 50 mg/kg anti-NRP1B, respectively. In addition to the soluble NRP1 isoforms, for the first time, a ∼120 kDa circulating NRP1 protein containing the complete extracellular domain was detected in serum by western blot and mass spectrometry analysis. This protein increased more than the putative soluble NRP1 bands in anti-NRP1B treated mouse, rat and monkey sera compared with untreated controls, suggesting that anti-NRP1B induced membrane NRP1 shedding.
PMCID: PMC2726604  PMID: 20068394
angiogenesis; soluble neuropilin-1; circulating neuropilin-1; anti-neuropilin-1; ELISA; serum
19.  Plexin A3 and plexin A4 convey semaphorin signals during facial nerve development 
Developmental biology  2008;324(1):1.
In vertebrates, class 3 semaphorins (SEMA3) control axon behaviour by binding to neuronal cell surface receptors composed of a ligand binding subunit termed neuropilin (NRP) and a signal transduction subunit of the A-type plexin family (PLXNA). We have determined the requirement for SEMA3/NRP/PLXN signalling in the development of the facial nerve, which contains axons from two motor neuron populations, branchiomotor and visceromotor neurons. Loss of either SEMA3A/NRP1 or SEMA3F/NRP2 caused defasciculation and ectopic projection of facial branchiomotor axons. In contrast, facial visceromotor axons selectively required SEMA3A/NRP1. Thus, the greater superficial petrosal nerve was defasciculated, formed ectopic projections and failed to branch in its target area when either SEMA3A or NRP1 were lost. To examine which A-type plexin conveyed SEMA3/neuropilin signals during facial nerve development, we combined an expression analysis with loss of function studies. Even though all four A-type plexins were expressed in embryonic motor neurons, PLXNA1 and PLXNA2 were not essential for facial nerve development. In contrast, loss of PLXNA4 phenocopied the defects of SEMA3A and NRP1 mutants, and loss of PLXNA3 phenocopied the defects of SEMA3F and NRP2 mutants. The combined loss of PLXNA3 and PLXNA4 impaired facial branchiomotor axon guidance more severely than loss of either plexin alone, suggesting that both pathways normally cooperate; in contrast, loss of both plexins did not impair facial visceromotor defects any worse than loss of PLXNA4. We conclude that PLXNA3 and PLXNA4 synergise to pattern the facial nerve, whereby both are required in branchiomotor neurons, but only PLXNA4 is essential for visceromotor neurons.
PMCID: PMC2814064  PMID: 18804103
facial nerve; facial branchiomotor neuron; facial visceromotor neuron; greater superficial petrosal nerve; axon guidance; neuropilin; plexin; semaphorin; SEMA3A; SEMA3F
20.  Neuropilins: A New Target for Cancer Therapy 
Cancers  2011;3(2):1899-1928.
Recent investigations highlighted strong similarities between neural crest migration during embryogenesis and metastatic processes. Indeed, some families of axon guidance molecules were also reported to participate in cancer invasion: plexins/semaphorins/neuropilins, ephrins/Eph receptors, netrin/DCC/UNC5. Neuropilins (NRPs) are transmembrane non tyrosine-kinase glycoproteins first identified as receptors for class-3 semaphorins. They are particularly involved in neural crest migration and axonal growth during development of the nervous system. Since many types of tumor and endothelial cells express NRP receptors, various soluble molecules were also found to interact with these receptors to modulate cancer progression. Among them, angiogenic factors belonging to the Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) family seem to be responsible for NRP-related angiogenesis. Because NRPs expression is often upregulated in cancer tissues and correlated with poor prognosis, NRPs expression might be considered as a prognostic factor. While NRP1 was intensively studied for many years and identified as an attractive angiogenesis target for cancer therapy, the NRP2 signaling pathway has just recently been studied. Although NRP genes share 44% homology, differences in their expression patterns, ligands specificities and signaling pathways were observed. Indeed, NRP2 may regulate tumor progression by several concurrent mechanisms, not only angiogenesis but lymphangiogenesis, epithelial-mesenchymal transition and metastasis. In view of their multiples functions in cancer promotion, NRPs fulfill all the criteria of a therapeutic target for innovative anti-tumor therapies. This review focuses on NRP-specific roles in tumor progression.
PMCID: PMC3757396  PMID: 24212788
neuropilins; cancer; angiogenesis; lymphangiogenesis; targeted therapies
21.  The cytoplasmic domain of neuropilin 1 is dispensable for angiogenesis, but promotes the spatial separation of retinal arteries and veins 
Development (Cambridge, England)  2011;138(19):4185-4191.
Neuropilin 1 (NRP1) is a transmembrane glycoprotein that is essential for blood vessel development in vertebrates. Best known for its ability to bind members of the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and class 3 semaphorin families through its extracellular domain, it also has a highly conserved cytoplasmic domain, which terminates in a SEA motif that binds the PDZ protein synectin/GIPC1/NIP. Previous studies in zebrafish embryos and tissue culture models raised the possibility that the SEA motif of NRP1 is essential for angiogenesis. Here, we describe the generation of mice that express a form of NRP1 that lacks the cytoplasmic domain and, therefore, the SEA motif (Nrp1cytoΔ/Δ mice). Our analysis of pre- and perinatal vascular development revealed that vasculogenesis and angiogenesis proceed normally in these mutants, demonstrating that the membrane-anchored extracellular domain is sufficient for vessel growth. By contrast, the NRP1 cytoplasmic domain is required for normal arteriovenous patterning, because arteries and veins crossed each other at an abnormally high frequency in the Nrp1cytoΔ/Δ retina, as previously reported for mice with haploinsufficient expression of VEGF in neural progenitors. At crossing sites, the artery was positioned anteriorly to the vein, and both vessels were embedded in a shared collagen sleeve. In human eyes, similar arteriovenous crossings are risk factors for branch retinal vein occlusion (BRVO), an eye disease in which compression of the vein by the artery disrupts retinal blood flow, causing local tissue hypoxia and impairing vision. Nrp1cytoΔ/Δ mice may therefore provide a suitable genetic model to study the aetiology of BRVO.
PMCID: PMC3171219  PMID: 21852397
Neuropilin; Angiogenesis; Artery; Vein; VEGF
22.  A mutated soluble neuropilin-2 B domain antagonizes VEGF bioactivity and inhibits tumor progression* 
Molecular cancer research : MCR  2010;8(8):1063-1073.
Neuropilins (NRP1 and NRP2) are co-receptors for vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and mediate angiogenesis and tumor progression. VEGF binds to the NRP1 and NRP2 B domains. Previously, it was shown that mutagenesis of the soluble NRP2 B domain (MutB-NRP2) increased affinity to VEGF by 8-fold. Here, we show that MutB-NRP2 inhibited 125I-VEGF binding to NRP1, NRP2 and VEGFR-2. It antagonized VEGF-induced VEGFR-2/NRP2 complex formation and inhibited VEGF-induced activation of AKT, a mediator of cell survival, without affecting activation of VEGFR-2. In 3D embryoid bodies (EB), a model of VEGF-induced angiogenesis, MutB-NRP2 inhibited VEGF-induced sprouting. When overexpressed in human melanoma cells, MutB-NRP2 inhibited tumor growth compared to control tumors. Avastin (Bevacizumab), a monoclonal antibody to VEGF, inhibited VEGF interactions with VEGFR-2, but not with NRPs. The combination of MutB-NRP2 and Avastin resulted in an enhanced inhibition of human melanoma tumor growth compared to MutB-NRP2 treatment only or Avastin treatment only. In conclusion, these results indicate that MutB-NRP2 is a novel antagonist of VEGF bioactivity and tumor progression.
PMCID: PMC2923676  PMID: 20651020
23.  Neuropilin-1 is a receptor for transforming growth factor β-1, activates its latent form, and promotes regulatory T cell activity 
Journal of Leukocyte Biology  2008;84(1):302-310.
Neuropilin-1 (Nrp1) is a multifunctional protein, identified principally as a receptor for the class 3 semaphorins and members of the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) family, but it is capable of other interactions. It is a marker of regulatory T cells (Tr), which often carry Nrp1 and latency-associated peptide (LAP)-TGF-β1 (the latent form). The signaling TGF-β1 receptors bind only active TGF-β1, and we hypothesized that Nrp1 binds the latent form. Indeed, we found that Nrp1 is a high-affinity receptor for latent and active TGF-β1. Free LAP, LAP-TGF-β1, and active TGF-β1 all competed with VEGF165 for binding to Nrp1. LAP has a basic, arginine-rich C-terminal motif similar to VEGF and peptides that bind to the b1 domain of Nrp1. A C-terminal LAP peptide (QSSRHRR) bound to Nrp1 and inhibited the binding of VEGF and LAP-TGF-β1. We also analyzed the effects of Nrp1/LAP-TGF-β1 coexpression on T cell function. Compared with Nrp1– cells, sorted Nrp1+ T cells had a much greater capacity to capture LAP-TGF-β1. Sorted Nrp1– T cells captured soluble Nrp1-Fc, and this increased their ability to capture LAP-TGF-β1. Conventional CD4+CD25–Nrp1– T cells coated with Nrp1-Fc/LAP-TGF-β1 acquired strong Tr activity. Moreover, LAP-TGF-β was activated by Nrp1-Fc and also by a peptide of the b2 domain of Nrp1 (RKFK; similar to a thrombospondin-1 peptide). Breast cancer cells, which express Nrp1, also captured and activated LAP-TGF-β1 in a Nrp1-dependent manner. Thus, Nrp1 is a receptor for TGF-β1, activates its latent form, and is relevant to Tr activity and tumor biology.
PMCID: PMC2504713  PMID: 18436584
binding motif; VEGF; LAP-TGF-β1; signal transduction; CD4+CD25–; T lymphocytes; suppressor cells
24.  Neuropilin-1 Is Involved in Human T-Cell Lymphotropic Virus Type 1 Entry 
Journal of Virology  2006;80(14):6844-6854.
Human T-cell lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1) is transmitted through a viral synapse and enters target cells via interaction with the glucose transporter GLUT1. Here, we show that Neuropilin-1 (NRP1), the receptor for semaphorin-3A and VEGF-A165 and a member of the immune synapse, is also a physical and functional partner of HTLV-1 envelope (Env) proteins. HTLV-1 Env and NRP1 complexes are formed in cotransfected cells, and endogenous NRP1 contributes to the binding of HTLV-1 Env to target cells. NRP1 overexpression increases HTLV-1 Env-dependent syncytium formation. Moreover, overexpression of NRP1 increases both HTLV-1 and HTLV-2 Env-dependent infection, whereas down-regulation of endogenous NRP1 has the opposite effect. Finally, overexpressed GLUT1, NRP1, and Env form ternary complexes in transfected cells, and endogenous NRP1 and GLUT1 colocalize in membrane junctions formed between uninfected and HTLV-1-infected T cells. These data show that NRP1 is involved in HTLV-1 and HTLV-2 entry, suggesting that the HTLV receptor has a multicomponent nature.
PMCID: PMC1489069  PMID: 16809290
25.  Hypoxia induces tumor and endothelial cell migration in a Semaphorin 3F- and VEGF-dependent manner via transcriptional repression of their common receptor Neuropilin 2 
Cell Adhesion & Migration  2011;5(3):266-275.
Neuropilin-2 (NRP2) is a receptor expressed by tumor cells and endothelial cells (EC) that binds both semaphorin 3F (SEMA3F), a potent inhibitor of tumor angiogenesis and metastasis, and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a potent stimulator of tumor angiogenesis. It was found that glioblastoma and melanoma cells repressed NRP2 expression when maintained under hypoxic conditions and after treatment with the hypoxia-mimetic agent desferrioxamine (DFO), at both the mRNA and protein levels. Silencing of HIF1-α, the hypoxia-induced subunit of the hypoxia inducible factor (HIF), abrogated DFO-induced NRP2 repression. Conversely, ectopic expression of HIF1-α directly repressed NRP2 promoter activity and expression. NRP2 is the sole receptor for SE MA3F. Loss of NRP2 expression in tumor cells inhibited SE MA3F-dependent activities, such as inactivation of RhoA, depolymerization of F-actin and inhibition of tumor cell migration. On the other hand, loss of NRP2 expression in tumor cells increased VEGF protein levels in conditioned media, with no effects on VEGF mRNA levels. This increase in VEGF protein levels promoted paracrine activation of EC, including VEGF receptor-2 phosphorylation and activation of downstream signaling proteins such as p44/42 MAPK and p38 MAPK. In addition, the elevated VEGF levels induced EC migration and sprouting, two key steps of tumor angiogenesis in vivo. It was concluded that hypoxia regulates VEGF and SE MA3F activities through transcriptional repression of their common receptor NRP2, providing a novel mechanism by which hypoxia induces tumor angiogenesis, growth and metastasis.
PMCID: PMC3210211  PMID: 21610314
hypoxia; tumor; angiogenesis; neuropilin-2; VEGF; semaphorin 3F; endothelial cells; migration

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