Cysteine-rich and basic domain HIV-1 Tat peptides inhibit angiogenesis and induce endothelial cell apoptosis

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2001 May 4;283(2):469-79. doi: 10.1006/bbrc.2001.4790.


Previous findings suggest that both the Tat polypeptide encoded by HIV-1 and Tat-derived peptides can induce angiogenesis via activation of the KDR receptor for Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF). We identified 20 amino acids and 12 amino acid peptides corresponding to the cysteine-rich and basic domains of HIV-1 Tat which inhibited (125)I-VEGF(165) binding to KDR and neuropilin-1 (NP-1) receptors in endothelial cells. Cysteine-rich and basic Tat peptides inhibited VEGF-induced ERK activation and mitogenesis in endothelial cells, and inhibited angiogenesis in vitro at concentrations similar to those which inhibited VEGF receptor binding. These peptides also inhibited proliferation, angiogenesis, and ERK activation induced by basic fibroblast growth factor with similar potency and efficacy. Surprisingly, we found that both cysteine-rich and basic domain Tat peptides strikingly induced apoptosis in endothelial cells, independent of their effects on VEGF and bFGF. Furthermore, we found no evidence for direct biological effects of recombinant Tat on VEGF receptor binding, ERK activation, endothelial cell survival, or mitogenesis. These findings demonstrate novel properties of Tat-derived peptides and indicate that their major effect in endothelial cells is apoptosis independent of specific inhibition of VEGF receptor activation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cysteine / chemistry
  • Endothelial Growth Factors / metabolism
  • Endothelium, Vascular / cytology*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / drug effects*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism
  • Enzyme Activation / drug effects
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 2 / pharmacology
  • Gene Products, tat / chemistry*
  • Gene Products, tat / genetics
  • Gene Products, tat / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Lymphokines / metabolism
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Neovascularization, Physiologic / drug effects*
  • Peptide Fragments / chemistry
  • Peptide Fragments / genetics
  • Peptide Fragments / toxicity
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / drug effects
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / metabolism
  • Receptors, Growth Factor / drug effects
  • Receptors, Growth Factor / metabolism
  • Receptors, Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor
  • Recombinant Proteins / chemistry
  • Recombinant Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Proteins / pharmacology
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factors


  • Endothelial Growth Factors
  • Gene Products, tat
  • Lymphokines
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Receptors, Growth Factor
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factors
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 2
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • Receptors, Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • Cysteine