Transforming growth factor-alpha-induced transcriptional activation of the vascular permeability factor (VPF/VEGF) gene requires AP-2-dependent DNA binding and transactivation

EMBO J. 1997 Feb 17;16(4):750-9. doi: 10.1093/emboj/16.4.750.


The endothelial cell-specific mitogen vascular permeability factor/vascular endothelial growth factor (VPF/VEGF) represents a central regulator of cutaneous angiogenesis. Increased VPF/VEGF expression has recently been reported in psoriatic skin and healing wounds, both conditions in which transforming growth factor-alpha (TGF alpha) and its ligand, the epidermal growth factor receptor, are markedly up-regulated. Since TGF alpha strongly induces VPF/VEGF synthesis in keratinocytes, TGF alpha-mediated VPF/VEGF expression is likely to play a significant role in the initiation and maintenance of increased vascular hyperpermeability and hyperproliferation in skin biology. The objectives of the present studies were to determine the molecular mechanisms responsible for TGF alpha-induced transcriptional activation of the VPF/VEGF gene. We have identified a GC-rich TGF alpha-responsive region between -88 bp and -65 bp of the VPF/VEGF promoter that is necessary for constitutive and TGF alpha-inducible transcriptional activation. In electrophoretic mobility shift assays, this region binds Sp1-dependent protein complexes constitutively and an additional TGF alpha-inducible protein complex that is distinct from Sp1 protein. Both AP-2 and Egr-1 transcription factors were detected as components of the TGF alpha-inducible protein complex in supershift EMSA studies. In co-transfection studies, an AP-2 but not an Egr-1 expression vector activated VPF/VEGF transcription, thus indicating that AP-2 protein is functionally important in TGF alpha-induced VPF/VEGF gene expression. By clarifying regulatory mechanisms that are critical for angiogenic processes in the skin, these studies may form the basis for new therapeutic strategies to modulate VPF/VEGF expression in cutaneous inflammation and wound healing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell
  • DNA / metabolism
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / physiology*
  • Early Growth Response Protein 1
  • Endothelial Growth Factors / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Immediate-Early Proteins*
  • Lymphokines / genetics*
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Sequence Deletion
  • Sp1 Transcription Factor / metabolism
  • Transcription Factor AP-2
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / physiology*
  • Transcriptional Activation / physiology*
  • Transforming Growth Factor alpha / pharmacology*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factors


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • EGR1 protein, human
  • Early Growth Response Protein 1
  • Endothelial Growth Factors
  • Immediate-Early Proteins
  • Lymphokines
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Sp1 Transcription Factor
  • Transcription Factor AP-2
  • Transcription Factors
  • Transforming Growth Factor alpha
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factors
  • DNA