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1.  Notch modulates VEGF action in endothelial cells by inducing Matrix Metalloprotease activity 
Vascular Cell  2011;3:2.
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.
PMCID: PMC3039832  PMID: 21349159
2.  Notch Pathway Modulation on Bone Marrow-Derived Vascular Precursor Cells Regulates Their Angiogenic and Wound Healing Potential 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(11):e3752.
Bone marrow (BM) derived vascular precursor cells (BM-PC, endothelial progenitors) are involved in normal and malignant angiogenesis, in ischemia and in wound healing. However, the mechanisms by which BM-PC stimulate the pre-existing endothelial cells at sites of vascular remodelling/recovery, and their contribution towards the formation of new blood vessels are still undisclosed. In the present report, we exploited the possibility that members of the Notch signalling pathway, expressed by BM-PC during endothelial differentiation, might regulate their pro-angiogenic or pro-wound healing properties. We demonstrate that Notch pathway modulates the adhesion of BM-PC to extracellular matrix (ECM) in vitro via regulation of integrin alpha3beta1; and that Notch pathway inhibition on BM-PC impairs their capacity to stimulate endothelial cell tube formation on matrigel and to promote endothelial monolayer recovery following wounding in vitro. Moreover, we show that activation of Notch pathway on BM-PC improved wound healing in vivo through angiogenesis induction. Conversely, inoculation of BM-PC pre-treated with a gamma secretase inhibitor (GSI) into wounded mice failed to induce angiogenesis at the wound site and did not promote wound healing, presumably due to a lower frequency of BM-PC at the wound area. Our data suggests that Notch pathway regulates BM-PC adhesion to ECM at sites of vascular repair and that it also regulates the capacity of BM-PC to stimulate angiogenesis and to promote wound healing. Drug targeting of the Notch pathway on BM-PC may thus represent a novel strategy to modulate neo-angiogenesis and vessel repair.
PMCID: PMC2582964  PMID: 19015735
3.  No Evidence for a Functional Role of Bi-Directional Notch Signaling during Angiogenesis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e53074.
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.
PMCID: PMC3532505  PMID: 23300864
4.  17β-Estradiol Enhances Signalling Mediated by VEGF-A-Delta-Like Ligand 4-Notch1 Axis in Human Endothelial Cells 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e71440.
Estrogens play a protective role in coronary artery disease. The mechanisms of action are still poorly understood, although a role for estrogens in stimulation of angiogenesis has been suggested. In several cell types, estrogens modulate the Notch pathway, which is involved in controlling angiogenesis downstream of vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A). The goal of our study was to establish whether estrogens modulate Notch activity in endothelial cells and the possible consequences on angiogenesis. Human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) were treated with 17β-estradiol (E2) and the effects on Notch signalling were evaluated. E2 increased Notch1 processing as indicated by i) decreased levels of Notch1 transmembrane subunit ii) increased amount of Notch1 in nuclei iii) unaffected level of mRNA. Similarly, E2 increased the levels of the active form of Notch4 without altering Notch4 mRNA. Conversely, protein and mRNA levels of Notch2 were both reduced suggesting transcriptional repression of Notch2 by E2. Under conditions where Notch was activated by upregulation of Delta-like ligand 4 (Dll4) following VEGF-A treatment, E2 caused a further increase of the active form of Notch1, of the number of cells with nuclear Notch1 and of Hey2 mRNA. Estrogen receptor antagonist ICI 182.780 antagonized these effects suggesting that E2 modulation of Notch1 is mediated by estrogen receptors. E2 treatment abolished the increase in endothelial cells sprouting caused by Notch inhibition in a tube formation assay on 3D Matrigel and in mouse aortic ring explants. In conclusion, E2 affects several Notch pathway components in HUVECs, leading to an activation of the VEGF-A-Dll4-Notch1 axis and to a modulation of vascular branching when Notch signalling is inhibited. These results contribute to our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of cardiovascular protection exerted by estrogens by uncovering a novel role of E2 in the Notch signalling-mediated modulation of angiogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3742772  PMID: 23967210
5.  Prox1 Regulates the Notch1-Mediated Inhibition of Neurogenesis 
PLoS Biology  2010;8(12):e1000565.
During development of the spinal cord, Prox1 controls the balance between proliferation and differentiation of neural progenitor cells via suppression of Notch1 gene expression.
Activation of Notch1 signaling in neural progenitor cells (NPCs) induces self-renewal and inhibits neurogenesis. Upon neuronal differentiation, NPCs overcome this inhibition, express proneural genes to induce Notch ligands, and activate Notch1 in neighboring NPCs. The molecular mechanism that coordinates Notch1 inactivation with initiation of neurogenesis remains elusive. Here, we provide evidence that Prox1, a transcription repressor and downstream target of proneural genes, counteracts Notch1 signaling via direct suppression of Notch1 gene expression. By expression studies in the developing spinal cord of chick and mouse embryo, we showed that Prox1 is limited to neuronal precursors residing between the Notch1+ NPCs and post-mitotic neurons. Physiological levels of Prox1 in this tissue are sufficient to allow binding at Notch1 promoter and they are critical for proper Notch1 transcriptional regulation in vivo. Gain-of-function studies in the chick neural tube and mouse NPCs suggest that Prox1-mediated suppression of Notch1 relieves its inhibition on neurogenesis and allows NPCs to exit the cell cycle and differentiate. Moreover, loss-of-function in the chick neural tube shows that Prox1 is necessary for suppression of Notch1 outside the ventricular zone, inhibition of active Notch signaling, down-regulation of NPC markers, and completion of neuronal differentiation program. Together these data suggest that Prox1 inhibits Notch1 gene expression to control the balance between NPC self-renewal and neuronal differentiation.
Author Summary
Early during development, neural progenitor cells (NPCs) can either proliferate or differentiate into neurons. Thus, generation of the correct number of neurons is governed by a tightly regulated balance between proliferation and differentiation, and disruption of this balance can result in severe developmental deficits, malformations, or cancers. Notch1 is a member of the Notch family of receptors, which make up a highly conserved cell signaling system. Notch1 signaling has been shown to inhibit NPC differentiation and to promote self-renewal, thereby allowing NPCs to divide and progressively generate the enormous number of neurons present in the central nervous system. The molecular mechanism by which NPCs overcome Notch1-mediated inhibition in order to differentiate into neurons, however, is not completely understood. In this study, we show that Prox1, a homeobox transcriptional repressor, plays a fundamental role in the switch to differentiation by suppressing the expression of Notch1 receptor, thereby preventing newly produced neuronal precursors from receiving inhibitory signals from Notch ligands present in neighboring cells. This transcriptional repression may regulate cell cycle exit and differentiation of NPCs as they migrate towards different regions and adopt their final cell fates. We suggest that Prox1 may exert its known influence on embryonic development, organ morphogenesis, and cancer through its ability to counteract Notch1 signaling.
PMCID: PMC3006385  PMID: 21203589
6.  Radiotherapy Suppresses Angiogenesis in Mice through TGF-βRI/ALK5-Dependent Inhibition of Endothelial Cell Sprouting 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(6):e11084.
Radiotherapy is widely used to treat cancer. While rapidly dividing cancer cells are naturally considered the main target of radiotherapy, emerging evidence indicates that radiotherapy also affects endothelial cell functions, and possibly also their angiogenic capacity. In spite of its clinical relevance, such putative anti-angiogenic effect of radiotherapy has not been thoroughly characterized. We have investigated the effect of ionizing radiation on angiogenesis using in vivo, ex vivo and in vitro experimental models in combination with genetic and pharmacological interventions.
Principal Findings
Here we show that high doses ionizing radiation locally suppressed VEGF- and FGF-2-induced Matrigel plug angiogenesis in mice in vivo and prevented endothelial cell sprouting from mouse aortic rings following in vivo or ex vivo irradiation. Quiescent human endothelial cells exposed to ionizing radiation in vitro resisted apoptosis, demonstrated reduced sprouting, migration and proliferation capacities, showed enhanced adhesion to matrix proteins, and underwent premature senescence. Irradiation induced the expression of P53 and P21 proteins in endothelial cells, but p53 or p21 deficiency and P21 silencing did not prevent radiation-induced inhibition of sprouting or proliferation. Radiation induced Smad-2 phosphorylation in skin in vivo and in endothelial cells in vitro. Inhibition of the TGF-β type I receptor ALK5 rescued deficient endothelial cell sprouting and migration but not proliferation in vitro and restored defective Matrigel plug angiogenesis in irradiated mice in vivo. ALK5 inhibition, however, did not rescue deficient proliferation. Notch signaling, known to hinder angiogenesis, was activated by radiation but its inhibition, alone or in combination with ALK5 inhibition, did not rescue suppressed proliferation.
These results demonstrate that irradiation of quiescent endothelial cells suppresses subsequent angiogenesis and that ALK5 is a critical mediator of this suppression. These results extend our understanding of radiotherapy-induced endothelial dysfunctions, relevant to both therapeutic and unwanted effects of radiotherapy.
PMCID: PMC2884035  PMID: 20552031
7.  Critical Role of Endothelial Notch1 Signaling in Postnatal Angiogenesis 
Circulation research  2006;100(1):70-78.
Notch receptors are important mediators of cell fate during embryogenesis, but their role in adult physiology, particularly in postnatal angiogenesis, remains unknown. Of the Notch receptors, only Notch1 and Notch4 are expressed in vascular endothelial cells. Here we show that blood flow recovery and postnatal neovascularization in response to hindlimb ischemia in haploinsufficient global or endothelial-specific Notch1+/- mice, but not Notch4-/- mice, were impaired compared with wild-type mice. The expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in response to ischemia was comparable between wild-type and Notch mutant mice, suggesting that Notch1 is downstream of VEGF signaling. Treatment of endothelial cells with VEGF increases presenilin proteolytic processing, γ-secretase activity, Notch1 cleavage, and Hes-1 (hairy enhancer of split homolog-1) expression, all of which were blocked by treating endothelial cells with inhibitors of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/protein kinase Akt or infecting endothelial cells with a dominant-negative Akt mutant. Indeed, inhibition of γ-secretase activity leads to decreased angiogenesis and inhibits VEGF-induced endothelial cell proliferation, migration, and survival. Overexpression of the active Notch1 intercellular domain rescued the inhibitory effects of γ-secretase inhibitors on VEGF-induced angiogenesis. These findings indicate that the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt pathway mediates γ-secretase and Notch1 activation by VEGF and that Notch1 is critical for VEGF-induced postnatal angiogenesis. These results suggest that Notch1 may be a novel therapeutic target for improving angiogenic response and blood flow recovery in ischemic limbs.
PMCID: PMC2615564  PMID: 17158336
angiogenesis; endothelium; ischemia; vasculature
8.  RhoA mediated signaling in Notch-induced senescence like growth arrest and endothelial barrier dysfunction 
Notch signaling has a critical role in vascular development and morphogenesis. Activation of Notch in endothelial cells led to a senescence-like phenotype with loss of barrier function. Our objective was to understand the molecular pathways mediating this phenotype.
Methods and Results
Human primary endothelial cells increase expression of Notch receptors and ligands during propagation in vitro towards natural senescence. This senescence was induced at low passage with Notch activation. We characterized the pathways activated downstream of Notch signaling. Notch was activated by Dll4 ligand or constitutively active Notch receptors, and measured for cell proliferation, migration, and sprouting. Notch signaling triggered early senescence in low passage cells, characterized by increased p53 and p21 expression. The senescence phenotype was associated with hyperpermeability of the monolayer, with disrupted VE-cadherin and β-catenin levels and localization. Consistent with changes in cell shape and contact, we demonstrate that Notch activation increases myosin light chain (MLC) phosphorylation by activating Rho kinase. Inhibition of Rho abrogated Notch-induced MLC phosphorylation, and led to enhanced barrier function by reorganizing F-actin to β-catenin containing cell-cell adherens junctions.
Our findings show that RhoA/Rho kinase regulation by Notch signaling in endothelial cells trigger a senescence phenotype associated with endothelial barrier dysfunction.
PMCID: PMC3252819  PMID: 21273559
Notch; endothelial senescence; barrier function; Rho
9.  SIRT1 Regulates Endothelial Notch Signaling in Lung Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e45331.
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).
Principal Findings
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.
PMCID: PMC3445453  PMID: 23028940
10.  Notch Decoys that Selectively Block Dll/Notch or Jagged/Notch Disrupt Angiogenesis by Unique Mechanisms to Inhibit Tumor Growth 
Cancer discovery  2014;5(2):182-197.
A pro-angiogenic role for Jagged-dependent activation of Notch signaling in the endothelium has yet to be described. Using proteins that encoded different NOTCH1 EGF-like repeats, we identified unique regions of DLL-class and JAG-class ligand/receptor interactions, and developed Notch decoys that function as ligand-specific Notch inhibitors. N110-24 decoy blocked JAG1/JAG2-mediated NOTCH1 signaling, angiogenic sprouting in vitro and retinal angiogenesis, demonstrating JAG-dependent Notch signal activation promotes angiogenesis. In tumors, N110-24 decoy reduced angiogenic sprouting, vessel perfusion, pericyte coverage, and tumor growth. JAG/NOTCH signaling uniquely inhibited expression of anti-angiogenic sVEFGFR-1/sFlt-1. N11-13 decoy interfered with DLL1/DLL4-mediated NOTCH1 signaling and caused endothelial hypersprouting in vitro, in retinal angiogenesis and in tumors. Thus, blockade of JAG- or DLL-mediated Notch signaling inhibits angiogenesis by distinct mechanisms. JAG/Notch signaling positively regulates angiogenesis by suppressing sVEGFR-1/sFlt-1 and promoting mural/endothelial cell interactions. Blockade of JAG-class ligands represents a novel, viable therapeutic approach to block tumor angiogenesis and growth.
PMCID: PMC4423829  PMID: 25387766
Soluble Notch; Jagged; Delta-like; tumor; angiogenesis
11.  Norisoboldine Suppresses VEGF-Induced Endothelial Cell Migration via the cAMP-PKA-NF-κB/Notch1 Pathway 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e81220.
The migration of endothelial cells has been regarded as a potential target for the treatment of angiogenesis-related diseases. Previously, we demonstrated that norisoboldine (NOR), an alkaloid compound isolated from Radix Linderae, can significantly suppress synovial angiogenesis by selectively inhibiting endothelial cell migration. In this study, we evaluated the importance of various pathways in VEGF-induced endothelial cell migration using specific inhibitor. VEGF-induced endothelial cell migration and sprouting were significantly inhibited by H-89 (an inhibitor of protein kinase A (PKA)) but not by inhibitors of other pathways. NOR markedly suppressed VEGF-induced intracytoplasmic cAMP production and PKA activation and thereby down-regulated the activation of downstream components of the PKA pathway, including enzymes (src, VASP and eNOS) and the transcription factor NF-κB. Moreover, the transcription activation potential of NF-κB, which is related to IκBα phosphorylation and the disruption of the p65/IκBα complex, was reduced by NOR. Meanwhile, NOR selectively inhibited the expression of p-p65 (ser276) but not p-p65 (ser536) or PKAc, indicating that PKAc participates in the regulation of NF-κB by NOR. Co-immunoprecipitation and immunofluorescence assays confirmed that NOR inhibited the formation of the PKAc/p65 complex and thereby decreased p65 (ser276) phosphorylation to prevent p65 binding to DNA. Docking models indicated that the affinity of NOR for PKA was higher than that of the original PKA ligand. Moreover, the fact that H-89 improved Notch1 activation, but DAPT (an inhibitor of Notch) failed to affect PKA activation, suggested that PKA may act on upstream of Notch1. In conclusion, the inhibitory effects of NOR on endothelial cell migration can be attributed to its modulation of the PKA pathway, especially on the processes of p65/IκBα complex disruption and PKAc/p65 complex formation. These results suggest that NOR inhibit VEGF-induced endothelial cell migration via a cAMP-PKA-NF-κB/Notch1 signaling pathway.
PMCID: PMC3857208  PMID: 24349042
12.  A Notch1 Ectodomain Construct Inhibits Endothelial Notch Signaling, Tumor Growth, and Angiogenesis 
Cancer research  2008;68(12):4727-4735.
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.
PMCID: PMC3690602  PMID: 18559519
13.  ALK1 Signaling Inhibits Angiogenesis by Cooperating with the Notch Pathway 
Developmental cell  2012;22(3):489-500.
Activin receptor-like kinase 1 (ALK1) is an endothelial-specific member of the TGF-β/BMP receptor family that is inactivated in patients with hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT). How ALK1 signaling regulates angiogenesis remains incompletely understood. Here we show that ALK1 inhibits angiogenesis by cooperating with the Notch pathway. Blocking Alk1 signaling during postnatal development in mice leads to retinal hypervascularization and the appearance of arteriovenous malformations (AVMs). Combined blockade of Alk1 and Notch signaling further exacerbates hypervascularization, whereas activation of Alk1 by its high-affinity ligand BMP9 rescues hypersprouting induced by Notch inhibition. Mechanistically, ALK1-dependent SMAD signaling synergizes with activated Notch in stalk cells to induce expression of the Notch targets HEY1 and HEY2, thereby repressing VEGF signaling, tip cell formation, and endothelial sprouting. Taken together, these results uncover a direct link between ALK1 and Notch signaling during vascular morpho-genesis that may be relevant to the pathogenesis of HHT vascular lesions.
PMCID: PMC4047762  PMID: 22421041
14.  Pitavastatin-induced angiogenesis and arteriogenesis is mediated by Notch1 in a murine hindlimb ischemia model without induction of VEGF 
Notch signaling is reported to regulate angiogenesis, interacting with vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) signaling. HMG CoA reductase inhibitors (statins) also alter Notch signaling in vascular cells, but the mechanism and involvement of Notch and VEGF signaling in statin-mediated angiogenesis remain unclear. Here, we examined how statins activate the endothelial Notch1, and promote angiogenesis and arteriogenesis. We examined blood flow recovery after hindlimb ischemia in wild-type (WT) and Notch1 mutant mice treated with or without pitavastatin (3 mg/kg/day, p.o.). Although VEGF induction was not altered in ischemic limbs, pitavastatin promoted blood flow recovery in ischemic limbs in control mice but not in Notch1 mutant mice. Furthermore, pitavastatin induced endothelial ephrinB2 downstream of Notch1 and increased the density of both capillaries and arterioles in the ischemic limbs of WT but not of Notch1 mutant mice. Pitavastatin (100 nmol/l) rapidly activated γ-secretase and Notch1 in human umbilical vein endothelial cells without VEGF induction, which was suppressed by pharmacological inhibition and knockdown of Akt. Pitavastatin also augmented endothelial proliferation and tube formation on Matrigel, which were suppressed by either γ-secretase inhibition or knockdown of Notch1. Pitavastatin-induced microvascular sprouting was also impaired in Notch1 mutant aortic explants. Taken together, pitavastatin activates Notch1 through Akt-dependent stimulation of γ-secretase in endothelial cells, and thereby increases vasculogenesis without VEGF induction.
PMCID: PMC3807100  PMID: 21301413
Akt; angio/arteriogenesis; endothelial function; Notch signal pathway; statins
15.  Microfibril-Associate Glycoprotein-2 (MAGP-2) Promotes Angiogenic cell sprouting by Blocking Notch Signaling in Endothelial Cells 
Microvascular research  2008;76(1):7-14.
Angiogenesis is highly sensitive to the composition of the vascular microenvironment, however, our understanding of the structural and matricellular components of the vascular microenvironment that regulate angiogenesis and the molecular mechanisms by which these molecules function remains incomplete. Our previous results described a novel pro-angiogenic activity for Microfibril-Associated Glycoprotein-2 (MAGP-2), but did not address the molecular mechanism(s) by which this is accomplished. We now demonstrate that MAGP-2 promotes angiogenic cell sprouting by antagonizing Notch signaling pathways in endothelial cells. MAGP-2 decreased basal and Jagged1 induced expression from the Notch sensitive Hes-1 promoter in ECs, and blocked Jagged1 stimulated Notch1 receptor processing in transiently transfected 293T cells. Interestingly, inhibition of Notch signaling by MAGP-2 seems to be restricted to ECs since MAGP-2 increased Hes-1 promoter activity and Notch1 receptor processing in heterologous cell types. Importantly, constitutive activation of the Notch signaling pathway blocked the ability of MAGP-2 to promote angiogenic cell sprouting, as well as morphological changes associated with angiogenesis. Collectively, these observations indicate that MAGP-2 promotes angiogenic cell spouting in vitro by antagonizing Notch signaling pathways in ECs.
PMCID: PMC2481384  PMID: 18417156
angiogenesis; MAGP-2; Notch; cancer; matricellular; ECM
16.  Loss of CCM3 impairs DLL4-Notch signalling: implication in endothelial angiogenesis and in inherited cerebral cavernous malformations 
CCM3, a product of the cerebral cavernous malformation 3 or programmed cell death 10 gene (CCM3/PDCD10), is broadly expressed throughout development in both vertebrates and invertebrates. Increasing evidence indicates a crucial role of CCM3 in vascular development and in regulation of angiogenesis and apoptosis. Furthermore, loss of CCM3 causes inherited (familial) cerebral cavernous malformation (CCM), a common brain vascular anomaly involving aberrant angiogenesis. This study focused on signalling pathways underlying the angiogenic functions of CCM3. Silencing CCM3 by siRNA stimulated endothelial proliferation, migration and sprouting accompanied by significant downregulation of the core components of Notch signalling including DLL4, Notch4, HEY2 and HES1 and by activation of VEGF and Erk pathways. Treatment with recombinant DLL4 (rhDLL4) restored DLL4 expression and reversed CCM3-silence-mediated impairment of Notch signalling and reduced the ratio of VEGF-R2 to VEGF-R1 expression. Importantly, restoration of DLL4-Notch signalling entirely rescued the hyper-angiogenic phenotype induced by CCM3 silence. A concomitant loss of CCM3 and the core components of DLL4-Notch signalling were also demonstrated in CCM3-deficient endothelial cells derived from human CCM lesions (CCMEC) and in a CCM3 germline mutation carrier. This study defined DLL4 as a key downstream target of CCM3 in endothelial cells. CCM3/DLL4-Notch pathway serves as an important signalling for endothelial angiogenesis and is potentially implicated in the pathomechanism of human CCMs.
PMCID: PMC3823022  PMID: 23388056
CCM3/PDCD10; DLL4-Notch signalling; angiogenesis; endothelium; cerebral cavernous malformation
17.  Influence of Dll4 via HIF-1α-VEGF Signaling on the Angiogenesis of Choroidal Neovascularization under Hypoxic Conditions 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(4):e18481.
Choroidal neovascularization (CNV) is the common pathological basis of irreversible visual impairment encountered in a variety of chorioretinal diseases; the pathogenesis of its development is complicated and still imperfectly understood. Recent studies indicated that delta-like ligand 4 (Dll4), one of the Notch family ligands might participate in the HIF-1α-VEGF pathway to regulate CNV angiogenesis. But little is known about the influence and potential mechanism of Dll4/Notch signals on CNV angiogenesis. Real-time RT-PCR, Western blotting were used to analyze the expression alteration of Dll4, VEGF and HIF-1α in hypoxic RF/6A cells. Immunofluorescence staining, a laser-induced rat CNV model and intravitreal injection techniques were used to confirm the relationships among these molecules in vitro and in vivo. RPE-RF/6A cell co-culture systems were used to investigate the effects of Dll4/Notch signals on CNV angiogenesis. We found that the Dll4 was involved in hypoxia signaling in CNV angiogenesis. Results from the co-culture system showed that the enhancement of Dll4 expression in RF/6A cells led to the significantly faster proliferation and stronger tube forming ability, but inhibited cells migration and invasion across a monolayer of RPE cells in hypoxic environment, while siRNA-mediated Dll4 silencing caused the opposite effects. Pharmacological disruption of Notch signaling using gamma-secretase inhibitor (GSI) produced similar, but not identical effects, to that caused by the Dll4 siRNA. In addition, the expression of several key molecules involved in the angiogenesis of CNV was altered in RF/6A cells showing constitutively active Dll4 expression. These results suggest that Dll4 play an important role in CNV angiogenesis, which appears to be regulated by HIF-1α and VEGF during the progression of CNV under hypoxic conditions. Targeting Dll4/Notch signaling may facilitate further understanding of the mechanisms that underlie CNV angiogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3079714  PMID: 21526177
18.  Notch alters VEGF responsiveness in human and murine endothelial cells by direct regulation of VEGFR-3 expression 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2007;117(11):3369-3382.
The Notch family of cell surface receptors and its ligands are highly conserved proteins that regulate cell fate determination, including those involved in mammalian vascular development. We report that Notch induces VEGFR-3 expression in vitro in human endothelial cells and in vivo in mice. In vitro, Notch in complex with the DNA-binding protein CBF-1/suppressor of hairless/Lag1 (CSL) bound the VEGFR-3 promoter and transactivated VEGFR-3 specifically in endothelial cells. Through induction of VEGFR-3, Notch increased endothelial cell responsiveness to VEGF-C, promoting endothelial cell survival and morphological changes. In vivo, VEGFR-3 was upregulated in endothelial cells with active Notch signaling. Mice heterozygous for null alleles of both Notch1 and VEGFR-3 had significantly reduced viability and displayed midgestational vascular patterning defects analogous to Notch1 nullizygous embryos. We found that Notch1 and Notch4 were expressed in normal and tumor lymphatic endothelial cells and that Notch1 was activated in lymphatic endothelium of invasive mammary micropapillary carcinomas. These results demonstrate that Notch1 and VEGFR-3 interact genetically, that Notch directly induces VEGFR-3 in blood endothelial cells to regulate vascular development, and that Notch may function in tumor lymphangiogenesis.
PMCID: PMC2030453  PMID: 17948123
19.  A small molecule targeting ALK1 prevents Notch cooperativity and inhibits functional angiogenesis 
Angiogenesis  2015;18(2):209-217.
Activin receptor-like kinase 1 (ALK1, encoded by the gene ACVRL1) is a type I BMP/TGF-β receptor that mediates signalling in endothelial cells via phosphorylation of SMAD1/5/8. During angiogenesis, sprouting endothelial cells specialise into tip cells and stalk cells. ALK1 synergises with Notch in stalk cells to induce expression of the Notch targets HEY1 and HEY2 and thereby represses tip cell formation and angiogenic sprouting. The ALK1-Fc soluble protein fusion has entered clinic trials as a therapeutic strategy to sequester the high-affinity extracellular ligand BMP9. Here, we determined the crystal structure of the ALK1 intracellular kinase domain and explored the effects of a small molecule kinase inhibitor K02288 on angiogenesis. K02288 inhibited BMP9-induced phosphorylation of SMAD1/5/8 in human umbilical vein endothelial cells to reduce both the SMAD and the Notch-dependent transcriptional responses. In endothelial sprouting assays, K02288 treatment induced a hypersprouting phenotype reminiscent of Notch inhibition. Furthermore, K02288 caused dysfunctional vessel formation in a chick chorioallantoic membrane assay of angiogenesis. Such activity may be advantageous for small molecule inhibitors currently in preclinical development for specific BMP gain of function conditions, including diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma and fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva, as well as more generally for other applications in tumour biology.
PMCID: PMC4363482  PMID: 25557927
ALK1; ACVRL1; BMP9; Notch; Angiogenesis; Hypersprouting
20.  Regulation of Notch1 and Dll4 by Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor in Arterial Endothelial Cells: Implications for Modulating Arteriogenesis and Angiogenesis 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2003;23(1):14-25.
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.
PMCID: PMC140667  PMID: 12482957
21.  Notch signalling pathways mediate synovial angiogenesis in response to vascular endothelial growth factor and angiopoietin 2 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2012;72(6):1080-1088.
Notch signalling pathways are critical for angiogenesis and endothelial cell (EC) fate; however the mechanisms regulating these processes in the inflamed joint remain to be elucidated. Here, we examine whether Notch signalling mediates vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and angiopoietin 2 (Ang2)-induced vascular function.
Notch-1 intracellular domain (Notch-1 IC), Notch-4 IC, Delta-like-ligand 4, Hes-related transcriptional repressors-1 and 2 (Hrt-1, Hrt-2) mRNA and/or protein expression was measured by Real-time PCR and/or western blot. VEGF/Ang2 induced EC function was assessed using transwell invasion chambers, matrigel tube formation assays and wound repair scratch assays ± Notch-1 siRNA or an γ-secretase inhibitor N-(N-(3,5-Difluorophenacetyl-L-alanly))-S-phenylglycine-t-Butyl Ester (DAPT) in RA synovial explants or human microvascular EC. Interleukin (IL)-6 and IL-8 were measured by ELISA and MMP2 and 9 by gelatine zymography.
Notch-1 IC and Notch-4 IC protein expressions were demonstrated in RA and psoriatic arthritis synovial biopsies, with minimal expression observed in Osteoarthritis (OA). VEGF and Ang2 induced Notch-1 IC/ Notch-4 IC protein expression in synovial explant cultures and human microvascular EC levels were further potentiated by VEGF/Ang2 stimulation in combination. Notch-1, Delta-like-ligand 4, and Hrt-2 mRNA expression were significantly induced by VEGF and Ang2 alone and in combination. Furthermore VEGF/Ang2-induced EC invasion, angiogenesis and migration were inhibited by Notch-1 siRNA or DAPT. Conditioned media from VEGF/Ang2 stimulated RA synovial explants induced EC tube formation, an effect that was inhibited by DAPT. Finally, DAPT significantly decreased VEGF/Ang2 induced IL-6, IL-8, MMP2 and 9 expressions in RA synovial explants.
Notch-1 mediates VEGF/Ang2-induced angiogenesis and EC invasion in inflammatory arthritis.
PMCID: PMC3664379  PMID: 23161900
Inflammation; Rheumatoid Arthritis; Autoimmune Diseases
22.  Xiaotan Sanjie decoction attenuates tumor angiogenesis by manipulating Notch-1-regulated proliferation of gastric cancer stem-like cells 
World Journal of Gastroenterology : WJG  2014;20(36):13105-13118.
AIM: To determine the underlying mechanisms of action and influence of Xiaotan Sanjie (XTSJ) decoction on gastric cancer stem-like cells (GCSCs).
METHODS: The gastric cancer cell line MKN-45 line was selected and sorted by FACS using the cancer stem cell marker CD44; the stemness of these cells was checked in our previous study. In an in vitro study, the expression of Notch-1, Hes1, Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and Ki-67 in both CD44-positive gastric cancer stem-like cells (GCSCs) and CD44-negative cells was measured by Western blot. The effect of XTSJ serum on cell viability and on the above markers was measured by MTT assay and Western blot, respectively. In an in vivo study, the ability to induce angiogenesis and maintenance of GCSCs in CD44-positive-MKN-45- and CD44-negative-engrafted mice were detected by immunohistochemical staining using markers for CD34 and CD44, respectively. The role of XTSJ decoction in regulating the expression of Notch-1, Hes1, VEGF and Ki-67 was measured by Western blot and real-time polymerase chain reaction.
RESULTS: CD44+ GCSCs showed more cell proliferation and VEGF secretion than CD44-negative cells in vitro, which were accompanied by the high expression of Notch-1 and Hes1 and positively associated with tumor growth (GCSCs vs CD44-negative cells, 2.72 ± 0.25 vs 1.46 ± 0.16, P < 0.05) and microvessel density (MVD) (GCSCs vs CD44-negative cells, 8.15 ± 0.42 vs 3.83 ± 0.49, P < 0.001) in vivo. XTSJ decoction inhibited the viability of both cell types in a dose-dependent manner in vitro. Specifically, a significant difference in the medium- (82.87% ± 6.53%) and high-dose XTSJ groups (77.43% ± 7.34%) was detected at 24 h in the CD44+ GCSCs group compared with the saline group (95.42% ± 5.76%) and the low-dose XTSJ group (90.74% ± 6.57%) (P < 0.05). However, the efficacy of XTSJ decoction was reduced in the CD44- groups; significant differences were only detected in the high-dose XTSJ group at 48 h (78.57% ± 6.94%) and 72 h (72.12% ± 7.68%) when compared with the other CD44- groups (P < 0.05). Notably, these differences were highly consistent with the Notch-1, Hes1, VEGF and Ki-67 expression in these cells. Similarly, in vivo, XTSJ decoction inhibited tumor growth in a dose-dependent manner. A significant difference was observed in the medium- (1.76 ± 0.15) and high-dose XTSJ (1.33 ± 0.081) groups compared with the GCSCs control group (2.72 ± 0.25) and the low-dose XTSJ group (2.51 ± 0.25) (P < 0.05). We also detected a remarkable decrease of MVD in the medium- (7.10 ± 0.60) and high-dose XTSJ (5.99 ± 0.47) groups compared with the GCSC control group (8.15 ± 0.42) and the low-dose XTSJ group (8.14 ± 0.46) (P < 0.05). Additionally, CD44 expression was decreased in these groups [medium- (4.43 ± 0.45) and high-dose XTSJ groups (3.56 ± 0.31) vs the GCSC control (5.96 ± 0.46) and low dose XTSJ groups (5.91 ± 0.38)] (P < 0.05). The significant differences in Notch-1, Hes1, VEGF and Ki-67 expression highly mirrored the results of XTSJ decoction in inhibiting tumor growth, MVD and CD44 expression.
CONCLUSION: Notch-1 may play an important role in regulating the proliferation of GCSCs; XTSJ decoction could attenuate tumor angiogenesis, at least partially, by inhibiting Notch-1.
PMCID: PMC4177489  PMID: 25278704
Gastric cancer stem-like cells; Xiaotan Sanjie decoction; Tumor angiogenesis; Notch-1; Vascular endothelial growth factor
23.  MVL-PLA2, a Snake Venom Phospholipase A2, Inhibits Angiogenesis through an Increase in Microtubule Dynamics and Disorganization of Focal Adhesions 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(4):e10124.
Integrins are essential protagonists of the complex multi-step process of angiogenesis that has now become a major target for the development of anticancer therapies. We recently reported and characterized that MVL-PLA2, a novel phospholipase A2 from Macrovipera lebetina venom, exhibited anti-integrin activity. In this study, we show that MVL-PLA2 also displays potent anti-angiogenic properties. This phospholipase A2 inhibited adhesion and migration of human microvascular-endothelial cells (HMEC-1) in a dose-dependent manner without being cytotoxic. Using Matrigel™ and chick chorioallantoic membrane assays, we demonstrated that MVL-PLA2, as well as its catalytically inactivated form, significantly inhibited angiogenesis both in vitro and in vivo. We have also found that the actin cytoskeleton and the distribution of αvβ3 integrin, a critical regulator of angiogenesis and a major component of focal adhesions, were disturbed after MVL-PLA2 treatment. In order to further investigate the mechanism of action of this protein on endothelial cells, we analyzed the dynamic instability behavior of microtubules in living endothelial cells. Interestingly, we showed that MVL-PLA2 significantly increased microtubule dynamicity in HMEC-1 cells by 40%. We propose that the enhancement of microtubule dynamics may explain the alterations in the formation of focal adhesions, leading to inhibition of cell adhesion and migration.
PMCID: PMC2853567  PMID: 20405031
24.  Characterization of Notch1 Antibodies That Inhibit Signaling of Both Normal and Mutated Notch1 Receptors 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(2):e9094.
Notch receptors normally play a key role in guiding a variety of cell fate decisions during development and differentiation of metazoan organisms. On the other hand, dysregulation of Notch1 signaling is associated with many different types of cancer as well as tumor angiogenesis, making Notch1 a potential therapeutic target.
Principal Findings
Here we report the in vitro activities of inhibitory Notch1 monoclonal antibodies derived from cell-based and solid-phase screening of a phage display library. Two classes of antibodies were found, one directed against the EGF-repeat region that encompasses the ligand-binding domain (LBD), and the second directed against the activation switch of the receptor, the Notch negative regulatory region (NRR). The antibodies are selective for Notch1, inhibiting Jag2-dependent signaling by Notch1 but not by Notch 2 and 3 in reporter gene assays, with EC50 values as low as 5±3 nM and 0.13±0.09 nM for the LBD and NRR antibodies, respectively, and fail to recognize Notch4. While more potent, NRR antibodies are incomplete antagonists of Notch1 signaling. The antagonistic activity of LBD, but not NRR, antibodies is strongly dependent on the activating ligand. Both LBD and NRR antibodies bind to Notch1 on human tumor cell lines and inhibit the expression of sentinel Notch target genes, including HES1, HES5, and DTX1. NRR antibodies also strongly inhibit ligand-independent signaling in heterologous cells transiently expressing Notch1 receptors with diverse NRR “class I” point mutations, the most common type of mutation found in human T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL). In contrast, NRR antibodies failed to antagonize Notch1 receptors bearing rare “class II” or “class III” mutations, in which amino acid insertions generate a duplicated or constitutively sensitive metalloprotease cleavage site. Signaling in T-ALL cell lines bearing class I mutations is partially refractory to inhibitory antibodies as compared to cell-penetrating gamma-secretase inhibitors.
Antibodies that compete with Notch1 ligand binding or that bind to the negative regulatory region can act as potent inhibitors of Notch1 signaling. These antibodies may have clinical utility for conditions in which inhibition of signaling by wild-type Notch1 is desired, but are likely to be of limited value for treatment of T-ALLs associated with aberrant Notch1 activation.
PMCID: PMC2817004  PMID: 20161710
25.  Tie1 deletion inhibits tumor growth and improves angiopoietin antagonist therapy 
The endothelial Tie1 receptor is ligand-less, but interacts with the Tie2 receptor for angiopoietins (Angpt). Angpt2 is expressed in tumor blood vessels, and its blockade inhibits tumor angiogenesis. Here we found that Tie1 deletion from the endothelium of adult mice inhibits tumor angiogenesis and growth by decreasing endothelial cell survival in tumor vessels, without affecting normal vasculature. Treatment with VEGF or VEGFR-2 blocking antibodies similarly reduced tumor angiogenesis and growth; however, no additive inhibition was obtained by targeting both Tie1 and VEGF/VEGFR-2. In contrast, treatment of Tie1-deficient mice with a soluble form of the extracellular domain of Tie2, which blocks Angpt activity, resulted in additive inhibition of tumor growth. Notably, Tie1 deletion decreased sprouting angiogenesis and increased Notch pathway activity in the postnatal retinal vasculature, while pharmacological Notch suppression in the absence of Tie1 promoted retinal hypervasularization. Moreover, substantial additive inhibition of the retinal vascular front migration was observed when Angpt2 blocking antibodies were administered to Tie1-deficient pups. Thus, Tie1 regulates tumor angiogenesis, postnatal sprouting angiogenesis, and endothelial cell survival, which are controlled by VEGF, Angpt, and Notch signals. Our results suggest that targeting Tie1 in combination with Angpt/Tie2 has the potential to improve antiangiogenic therapy.
PMCID: PMC3904604  PMID: 24430181

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