Semaphorin-3B is an angiogenesis inhibitor that is inactivated by furin-like pro-protein convertases

Cancer Res. 2008 Sep 1;68(17):6922-31. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-07-5408.


Semaphorin-3B (sema3B) and semaphorin-3F (sema3F) are secreted tumor suppressors of lung cancer. Sema3F functions as an antiangiogenic factor that repels endothelial cells and compromises their proliferation/survival. However, tumor cells expressing either endogenous or recombinant sema3B fail to repel endothelial cells efficiently. Sema3B found in the conditioned medium of such cells is almost completely cleaved by furin-like pro-protein convertases, generating inactive 61- and 22-kDa fragments. We have generated a sema3B variant that was point mutated at the cleavage site (sema3B-m), thereby conferring partial resistance to cleavage. Conditioned medium from HEK293 cells expressing sema3b-m and conditioned medium of HEK293 cells expressing sema3B contained similar concentrations of semaphorin but sema3B-m was cleaved much less than sema3B. In contrast to HEK293 cells expressing native sema3B, cells expressing sema3b-m strongly repel endothelial cells. Conditioned medium from sema3B-m-expressing cells rapidly caused disassembly of focal adhesions and a collapse of the actin cytoskeleton of endothelial cells, inhibited vascular endothelial growth factor-induced phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2, induced apoptosis of endothelial cells, and inhibited the formation of tubes from endothelial cells in an in vitro angiogenesis assay more potently than conditioned medium from cells expressing sema3B. Furthermore, HEK293 cells expressing sema3B-m inhibited basic fibroblast growth factor-induced angiogenesis in vivo much more potently than cells expressing sema3B. Repulsion of human umbilical vascular endothelial cells by sema3B-m was mediated primarily by the neuropilin-1 (np1) receptor but sema3B-m was also able to transduce signals via neuropilin-2 (np2). These results suggest that up-regulation of furin-like pro-protein convertases in malignant cells may enable tumors to evade the antiangiogenic effects of sema3B.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors / metabolism
  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Base Sequence
  • Cell Line
  • Culture Media, Conditioned
  • DNA Primers
  • Endothelium, Vascular / cytology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / drug effects
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism
  • Furin / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / metabolism
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / pharmacology*
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed
  • Recombinant Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism
  • Recombinant Proteins / pharmacology
  • Semaphorins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Semaphorins / metabolism
  • Semaphorins / pharmacology*
  • Signal Transduction


  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors
  • Culture Media, Conditioned
  • DNA Primers
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • SEMA3B protein, human
  • Semaphorins
  • Furin