Background: The cytoplasmic tyrosine kinase, Src, has been found to play a crucial role in VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) - dependent vascular permeability involved in angiogenesis. The two main VEGFRs present on vascular endothelial cells are KDR/Flk-1 (kinase insert domain-containing receptor/fetal liver kinase-1) and Flt-1 (Fms-like tyrosine kinase-1). However, to date, it has not been determined which VEGF receptor (VEGFR) is involved in binding to and activating Src kinase following VEGF stimulation of the receptors.
Results: In this report, we demonstrate that Src preferentially associates with KDR/Flk-1 rather than Flt-1 in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs), and that VEGF stimulation resulted in an increase of Src activity associated with activated KDR/Flk-1. These findings were determined through immunoprecipitation-kinase experiments and coimmunoprecipitation studies, and were further confirmed by GST-pull-down assays and Far Western studies. However, Fyn and Yes, unlike Src, were found to associate preferentially with Flt-1.
Conclusions: Thus, Src preferentially associates with KDR/Flk-1, rather than with Flt-1, upon VEGF stimulation in endothelial cells. Our findings further highlight the potential significance of upregulated KDR/Flk-1-associated Src activity in the process of angiogenesis, and help to elucidate more clearly the specific roles and mechanisms involving Src family tyrosine kinase in VEGF-stimulated signal transduction events.