FLT1 and its soluble form (sFLT1) arise as alternate transcripts from the same gene and sFLT1 can antagonize the effect of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) on its cognate receptors. We investigated the effect of VEGF and protein kinase C (PKC) activation on sFLT1 abundance. We demonstrated that VEGF stimulates sFLT1 and FLT1 mRNA and protein levels in vascular endothelial cells via VEGFR2 and PKC. Using an FLT1 expression vector with N and C-terminal epitope tags, we show that PKC activation increases the cleavage of FLT1 into an N-terminal extracellular fragment and a C-terminal intracellular fragment with the cleavage occurring adjacent to the transmembrane domain. The trafficking and glycosylation inhibitors brefeldin, monensin and tunicamycin substantially reduced cleavage and release of the N-terminal ectodomain of FLT1 and inhibited secretion of the isoforms of sFLT1. The shed FLT1 ectodomain can bind VEGF and PlGF and inhibit VEGF-induced vascular tube formation thus confirming that it is functionally equivalent to the alternately spliced and secreted sFLT1 isoforms.
Keywords: Angiogenesis; Proteolytic cleavage; Soluble receptor.
Published by Elsevier Inc.