Malignant transformation of the endothelium is rare, and hemangiosarcomas comprise only 1% of all sarcomas. For this reason and due to the lack of appropriate mouse models, the genetic mechanisms of malignant endothelial transformation are poorly understood. Here, we describe a hemangiosarcoma mouse model generated by deleting p53 specifically in the endothelial and hematopoietic lineages. This strategy led to a high incidence of hemangiosarcoma, with an average latency of 25 weeks. To study the in vivo roles of autocrine or endothelial cell autonomous VEGF signaling in the initiation and/or progression of hemangiosarcomas, we genetically deleted autocrine endothelial sources of VEGF in this mouse model. We found that loss of even a single conditional VEGF allele results in substantial rescue from endothelial cell transformation. These findings highlight the important role of threshold levels of autocrine VEGF signaling in endothelial malignancies and suggest a new approach for hemangiosarcoma treatment using targeted autocrine VEGF inhibition.
Keywords: VEGF; autocrine; endothelial cell; hemangiosarcoma; mouse model; p53.