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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Uterine smooth muscle cells express functional receptors (flt-1 and KDR) for vascular permeability factor/vascular endothelial growth factor

  • Author(s): Brown, LF
  • Detmar, M
  • Tognazzi, K
  • Abu-Jawdeh, G
  • Iruela-Arispe, Luisa
  • et al.

Vascular permeability factor (VPF), also known as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), is an angiogenic factor with important roles in tumor growth, wound healing, and inflammation. VPF/VEGF interacts with endothelial cells by way of two high-affinity receptor tyrosine kinases: flt-1 and KDR. The vast majority of published studies have described expression of the VPF/VEGF receptors only in endothelial cells, and the statement is frequently made that these receptors are endothelial-cell-specific. In this study, we detected mRNA for flt-1 and KDR by in situ hybridization in smooth muscle cells in sections of the wall of the uterus. To confirm these unexpected findings, smooth muscle cells from the uterus and, as a control, from the colon were isolated, characterized, and cultured. Both uterine and colonic smooth muscle cells in culture expressed VPF/VEGF, but only smooth muscle cells from the uterus expressed mRNA for flt-1 and KDR by Northern analysis and in situ hybridization. Cell culture extracts of uterine but not colonic smooth muscle cells were also positive for flt-1 by Western analysis. Moreover, cultured uterine but not clonic smooth muscle cells phosphorylated the flt-1 receptor and proliferated strongly in response to added VPF/VEGF. This is one of the first rigorous demonstrations that a normal cell type other than endothelial cells can express functional receptors for VPF/VEGF in vivo and in vitro, suggesting that VPF/VEGF may have important, previously unsuspected roles on cell types other than endothelium.

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