Circulation 2014 May 19;129(19):1962-71. Epub 2014 Feb 19.
Wihuri Research Institute (M.J., A.A., V.-M.L., R.K., K.A.), Translational Cancer Biology Program (M.J., S.K.J., D.T., A.A., T.H., K.A.), and Department of Biomedicine (M.J.), Biomedicum Helsinki, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland; Biotechnology Programme, Spanish National Cancer Research Centre, Madrid, Spain (S.O.); Hubrecht Institute, Utrecht, The Netherlands (T.K.); and Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki, Finland (K.A.).
Background: Hennekam lymphangiectasia-lymphedema syndrome (Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man 235510) is a rare autosomal recessive disease, which is associated with mutations in the CCBE1 gene. Because of the striking phenotypic similarity of embryos lacking either the Ccbe1 gene or the lymphangiogenic growth factor Vegfc gene, we searched for collagen- and calcium-binding epidermal growth factor domains 1 (CCBE1) interactions with the vascular endothelial growth factor-C (VEGF-C) growth factor signaling pathway, which is critical in embryonic and adult lymphangiogenesis.
Methods And Results: By analyzing VEGF-C produced by CCBE1-transfected cells, we found that, whereas CCBE1 itself does not process VEGF-C, it promotes proteolytic cleavage of the otherwise poorly active 29/31-kDa form of VEGF-C by the A disintegrin and metalloprotease with thrombospondin motifs-3 protease, resulting in the mature 21/23-kDa form of VEGF-C, which induces increased VEGF-C receptor signaling. Adeno-associated viral vector-mediated transduction of CCBE1 into mouse skeletal muscle enhanced lymphangiogenesis and angiogenesis induced by adeno-associated viral vector-VEGF-C.
Conclusions: These results identify A disintegrin and metalloprotease with thrombospondin motifs-3 as a VEGF-C-activating protease and reveal a novel type of regulation of a vascular growth factor by a protein that enhances its proteolytic cleavage and activation. The results suggest that CCBE1 is a potential therapeutic tool for the modulation of lymphangiogenesis and angiogenesis in a variety of diseases that involve the lymphatic system, such as lymphedema or lymphatic metastasis.