Atypical E2Fs inhibit tumor angiogenesis

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Abstract

Atypical E2F transcription factors (E2F7 and E2F8) function as key regulators of cell cycle progression and their inactivation leads to spontaneous cancer formation in mice. However, the mechanism of the tumor suppressor functions of E2F7/8 remain obscure. In this study we discovered that atypical E2Fs control tumor angiogenesis, one of the hallmarks of cancer. We genetically inactivated atypical E2Fs in epithelial and mesenchymal neoplasm and analyzed blood vessel formation in three different animal models of cancer. Tumor formation was either induced by application of 7,12-Dimethylbenz(a)anthracene/12-O-Tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate or by Myc/Ras overexpression. To our surprise, atypical E2Fs suppressed tumor angiogenesis in all three cancer models, which is in a sharp contrast to previous findings showing that atypical E2Fs promote angiogenesis during fetal development in mice and zebrafish. Real-time imaging in zebrafish displayed that fluorescent-labeled blood vessels showed enhanced intratumoral branching in xenografted E2f7/8-deficient neoplasms compared with E2f7/8-proficient neoplasms. DLL4 expression, a key negative inhibitor of vascular branching, was decreased in E2f7/8-deficient neoplastic cells, indicating that E2F7/8 might inhibit intratumoral vessel branching via induction of DLL4.

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