Basal Flt1 tyrosine kinase activity is a positive regulator of endothelial survival and vascularization during zebrafish embryogenesis

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Journal Article

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Flt1, VEGF receptor inhibitor, Calycosin, Zebrafish, Endothelial cell, Molecular docking




Background: The role of Kdr (VEGFR-2/Flk-1) in vascular formation has been well described, but the role of Flt1 (VEGFR-1) is not well studied and is generally considered as a decoy receptor for trapping VEGF.

Methods: The effects of VEGFR1/2 kinase inhibitor (VRI) and calycosin on Flt1 tyrosine kinase (TK) activity were evaluated by molecular docking, enzymatic inhibition assay, protein co-immunoprecipitation and siRNA gene knock-down analysis in HUVECs. Toxicities of the chemicals were examined using HUVECs viability. Their effects on angiogenesis and vessel formation were furthered studied in HUVECs in vitro and Tg(fli-1:EGFP) zebrafish in vivo. The gene and protein expression of VEGF and VEGF receptors were investigated by quantitative RT-PCR and Western blot.

Results: VRI strongly inhibited physiological functions of both VEGF receptors and suppressed endothelial cell survival. This resulted in blood vessel loss in zebrafish embryos. Interestingly, calycosin co-treatment impeded VRI-induced blood vessel loss. Docking and kinase inhibition assay revealed that calycosin competed with VRI for the tyrosine kinase domain of Flt1 without affecting ATP binding. On the contrary, calycosin did not affect the interaction between VRI and Kdr-TK. Consistent with these results, calycosin counteracted the inhibition of Flt1-TK and PI3K phosphorylation induced by VRI in HUVECs. Further studies in vitro and in vivo showed that the minimizing effect of calycosin on VRI-mediated endothelial cytotoxicity was blocked by wortmannin (a PI3K inhibitor). The impeding effect of calycosin on VRI-induced blood vessel loss was absent in zebrafish embryos injected with Flt1 MO.

Conclusions: Flt1-tyrosine kinase (TK) activity contributed significantly in endothelial cells survival and vascular development during embryo angiogenesis in zebrafish by engaging PI3K/Akt pathway.

General Significance: The roles of Flt1 activity in endothelial cell survival in physiological vascular formation may have been previously under-appreciated.

Source Publication

Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - General Subjects

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