The lymphatic system plays important roles not only in the physiological processes, such as maintenance of tissue fluid homeostasis, but also in pathological processes including the lymph node metastasis of tumor cells. Therefore, understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying lymphatic vessel formation is crucial. Previous studies have shown that proliferation and migration of lymphatic endothelial cells (LECs) are activated by multiple types of signals mediated by tyrosine kinase receptors such as vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR) 3. Although signals mediated by platelet-derived growth factor receptor β (PDGFRβ) have been implicated in lymphangiogenesis, the mechanisms explaining how PDGFRβ expression is maintained in LECs remain to be fully elucidated. In the present study, we show that PDGFRβ expression in LECs is maintained by Prox1 transcription factor. Knockdown of Prox1 expression in human dermal LECs decreased the expression of PDGFRβ, leading to the lowered migration of human dermal LECs towards PDGF-BB. Furthermore, we found that PDGF signals play important roles in inflammatory lymphangiogenesis in a chronic aseptic peritonitis model. Intraperitoneal administration of imatinib, a potent inhibitor of PDGFRβ, and transduction of PDGFRβ/Fc chimeric protein by an adenoviral system both reduced inflammatory lymphangiogenesis induced by thioglycollate in mice. We also found that the expression of PDGFRβ/Fc reduced tumor lymphangiogenesis in a BxPC3 human pancreatic cancer xenograft model. These findings suggest that PDGFRβ is one of the key mediators of lymphatic vessel formation acting downstream of Prox1.
Keywords: Inflammation; Prox1; lymphangiogenesis; platelet-derived growth factor; tumor.
© 2014 The Authors. Cancer Science published by Wiley Publishing Asia Pty Ltd on behalf of Japanese Cancer Association.