Targeting Tie2 in the Tumor Microenvironment: From Angiogenesis to Dissemination

Cancers (Basel). 2021 Nov 16;13(22):5730. doi: 10.3390/cancers13225730.


The Tie2 receptor tyrosine kinase is expressed in vascular endothelial cells, tumor-associated macrophages, and tumor cells and has been a major focus of research in therapies targeting the tumor microenvironment. The most extensively studied Tie2 ligands are Angiopoietin 1 and 2 (Ang1, Ang2). Ang1 plays a critical role in vessel maturation, endothelial cell migration, and survival. Ang2, depending on the context, may function to disrupt connections between the endothelial cells and perivascular cells, promoting vascular regression. However, in the presence of VEGF-A, Ang2 instead promotes angiogenesis. Tie2-expressing macrophages play a critical role in both tumor angiogenesis and the dissemination of tumor cells from the primary tumor to secondary sites. Therefore, Ang-Tie2 signaling functions as an angiogenic switch during tumor progression and metastasis. Here we review the recent advances and complexities of targeting Tie2 signaling in the tumor microenvironment as a possible anti-angiogenic, and anti-metastatic, therapy and describe its use in combination with chemotherapy.

Keywords: TMEM doorways; Tie2; angiogenesis; angiopoietin; dissemination; metastasis; tumor microenvironment.

Publication types

  • Review