The annexin A2 system and angiogenesis

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The formation of new blood vessels from pre-existing vasculature, the process known as angiogenesis, is highly regulated by pro- and anti-angiogenic signaling molecules including growth factors and proteases. As an endothelial cell-surface co-receptor for plasminogen and tissue plasminogen activator, the annexin A2 (ANXA2) complex accelerates plasmin generation and facilitates fibrinolysis. Plasmin can subsequently activate a downstream proteolytic cascade involving multiple matrix metalloproteinases. Thus, in addition to maintaining blood vessel patency, the ANXA2 complex can also promote angiogenesis via its pro-fibrinolytic activity. The generation of ANXA2-deficient mice allowed us to first observe the pro-angiogenic role of ANXA2 in vivo. Further investigations have provided additional details regarding the mechanism for ANXA2 regulation of retinal and corneal angiogenesis. Other studies have reported that ANXA2 supports angiogenesis in specific tumor-related settings. Here, we summarize results from in vivo studies that illustrate the pro-angiogenic role of ANXA2, and discuss the critical questions that may lead to an advanced understanding of the molecular mechanisms for ANXA2-mediated angiogenesis. Finally, highlights from studies on ANXA2-interacting agents offer potential therapeutic opportunities for the application of ANXA2-centered pharmaceuticals in angiogenesis-related disorders.

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