ABSTRACT: Angiogenesis is associated with a number of pathological situations. In this study, we have focused our attention on the role of p42/p44 MAP (mitogen-activated protein) kinases and hypoxia in the control of angiogenesis. We demonstrate that p42/p44 MAP kinases play a pivotal role in angiogenesis by exerting a determinant action at three levels: i) persistent activation of p42/p44 MAP kinases abrogates apoptosis; ii) p42/p44 MAP kinase activity is critical for controlling proliferation and growth arrest of confluent endothelial cells; and iii) p42/p44 MAP kinases promote VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) expression by activating its transcription via recruitment of the AP-2/Sp1 (activator protein-2) complex on the proximal region (−88/−66) of the VEGF promoter and by direct phosphorylation of hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α). HIF-1α plays a crucial role in the control of HIF-1 activity, which mediates hypoxia-induced VEGF expression. We show that oxygen-regulated HIF-1α protein levels are not affected by intracellular localization (nucleus versus cytoplasm). Finally, we propose a model which suggests an autoregulatory feedback mechanism controlling HIF-1α and therefore HIF-1-dependent gene expression.
Biochemical Pharmacology 11/2000; · 4.70 Impact Factor