Molecular Biology of the VEGF and the VEGF Receptor Family


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Abstract

Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is the founding member of a still growing family of endothelial cell growth factors. The diverse functions of VEGF and its homologues (PlGF, VEGF-B, VEGF-C, VEGF-D, and VEGF-E) can be explained by their differential binding to the three signaling VEGF receptors. The VEGF family members PlGF and VEGF-B with exclusive binding capacities to the VEGFR-1 can influence monocyte activation and differentiation. The VEGFR-2 and VEGFR-3 binding VEGF homologues, VEGF-C and VEGF-D, are mitogens for both vascular and lymphatic endothelial cells. The orf virus encoded VEGF-E homologue binds and activates only the VEGFR-2 and thus may be the prototype of a vascular endothelial cell-specific growth factor. Further specific activities of VEGF and its homologues result from receptor-specific signaling and differential expression of ligands or receptors. A naturally occurring soluble form of the VEGFR-1 suggests a regulatory role for this receptor. Finally, the production and activation of factors involved in the coagulation/fibrinolytic system provide further evidence for the hypothesis that processes of hemostasis are involved in angiogenesis.

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