Regulation of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) expression is mediated by internal initiation of translation and alternative initiation of transcription

Oncogene. 1998 Jul 16;17(2):227-36. doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1202019.


Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) is a very potent angiogenic agent that has a central role in normal physiological angiogenesis as well as in tumor angiogenesis. VEGF expression is induced by hypoxia and hypoglycemia, and thus was suggested to promote neovascularization during tumor outgrowth. Yet, the molecular mechanism that governs VEGF expression is not fully characterized. VEGF induction is attributed in part to increased levels of transcription and RNA stability. Previously, we demonstrated that the 5' Untranslated Region (5' UTR) of VEGF has an important regulatory role in its expression. VEGF has an exceptionally long 5' UTR (1038 bp) which is highly rich in G+C nucleotides. This suggests that secondary structures in the 5' UTR might be essential for VEGF expression through transcriptional and post-transcriptional control mechanisms, as demonstrated for other growth factors. In this communication, we provide evidence that a computer predicted Internal Ribosome Entry Site (IRES) structure is biologically active and is located at the 3' end of the UTR. In addition, the results demonstrate that an alternative transcriptional initiation site for VEGF exists in the 5' UTR of VEGF. This alternative initiation site is 633 bp downstream of the main transcription start site and the resulting 5' UTR includes mainly the IRES structure. Therefore, our results suggest that VEGF is subjected to regulation at either translational level through a mechanism of ribosome internal initiation and/or transcriptional level through alternative initiation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Binding Sites
  • Computer Simulation
  • Endothelial Growth Factors / biosynthesis*
  • Endothelial Growth Factors / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Lymphokines / biosynthesis*
  • Lymphokines / genetics
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • Peptide Chain Initiation, Translational*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Regulatory Sequences, Nucleic Acid
  • Ribosomes / metabolism
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Transcription, Genetic*
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factors


  • Endothelial Growth Factors
  • Lymphokines
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factors