Stimulation of angiogenesis by Ras proteins

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2004 Mar 4;1654(1):23-37. doi: 10.1016/j.bbcan.2003.09.004.


Cells that have acquired a proliferative advantage form islets of hyperplasia during the initial stages of tumor development. Like normal cells, they require oxygen and nutrients to survive and proliferate. The centre of the islets is characterized by low oxygen pressure and low pH, conditions that stimulate the sprouting of new capillaries from nearby vascular beds. It is now well established that neovascularisation (angiogenesis) of the hyperplasias is essential for further development of the tumor. The family of ras oncogenes promotes the initiation of tumor growth by stimulating tumor cell proliferation, but also ensures tumor progression by stimulating tumor-associated angiogenesis. Oncogenic Ras proteins stimulate a number of effector pathways that culminate in the transcriptional activation of genes that control angiogenesis. Moreover, Ras signaling leads to stabilization of the produced mRNAs and, possibly, to enhanced initiation of their translation. In this review we describe the mechanisms that underlie Ras regulation of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), cyclooxygenases (COX-1/-2), thrombospondins (TSP-1/-2), urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA) and matrix metalloproteases-2 and -9 (MMP-2/-9). As a result of these Ras-regulated changes in gene expression, the tumor cells cause stimulation of endothelial cells in nearby vascular beds (directly via VEGF, and indirectly via COX-produced prostaglandins) and promote remodeling of the extracellular matrix (by lowering TSP and increasing uPA/MMPs). The latter effect makes growth factors available for endothelial cell activation and migration. In addition, tumor cell-activated stromal cells also contribute to the stimulation of angiogenesis by further enhancing the production and secretion of pro-angiogenic factors into the tumor stroma.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cyclooxygenase 1
  • Cyclooxygenase 2
  • Isoenzymes / metabolism
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Mice
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic*
  • Prostaglandin-Endoperoxide Synthases / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Thrombospondins / deficiency
  • Thrombospondins / metabolism
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / physiology*
  • ras Proteins / biosynthesis
  • ras Proteins / genetics
  • ras Proteins / physiology*


  • Isoenzymes
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Thrombospondins
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • vascular endothelial growth factor A, mouse
  • Cyclooxygenase 1
  • Cyclooxygenase 2
  • Prostaglandin-Endoperoxide Synthases
  • Ptgs1 protein, mouse
  • ras Proteins