Numerous studies have suggested a link between the angiogenic FGF and VEGF signaling pathways; however, the nature of this link has not been established. To evaluate this relationship, we investigated VEGF signaling in ECs with disrupted FGF signaling in vitro and in vivo. ECs lacking FGF signaling became unresponsive to VEGF, caused by downregulation of VEGF receptor 2 (VEGFR2) expression after reduced Vegfr2 enhancer activation. FGF mediated VEGFR2 expression via activation of Erk1/2. Transcriptional analysis revealed that Ets transcription factors controlled VEGFR2 expression in an FGF- and Erk1/2-dependent manner. Mice with defective FGF signaling exhibited loss of vascular integrity and reduced vascular morphogenesis. Thus, basal FGF stimulation of the endothelium is required for maintenance of VEGFR2 expression and the ability to respond to VEGF stimulation and accounts for the hierarchic control of vascular formation by FGFs and VEGF.
Masahiro Murakami, Loc T. Nguyen, Kunihiko Hatanaka, William Schachterle, Pei-Yu Chen, Zhen W. Zhuang, Brian L. Black, Michael Simons