Glial cell-induced endothelial morphogenesis is inhibited by interfering with extracellular signal-regulated kinase signaling

Nirmala Chandrasekar, Sanjeeva Mohanam, S. Sajani Lakka, Dzung H. Dinh, William C. Olivero, Meena Gujrati, Jasti S. Rao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Tumor vasculature provides the infrastructure by which malignant tissue can be nourished; therefore, targeting angiogenesis may be an effective means of treating cancer. We showed previously that SNB19 glioblastoma cells modulate bovine retinal endothelial cells in cocultures to form capillary-like network structures, that matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) expression is critical for endothelial morphogenesis, and that MMP-9 expression in glioblastoma cells is regulated by extracellular signal-regulated kinase-1 (ERK-1). In the present study, we investigated whether interfering with the activation of this mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase would repress MMP-9 synthesis and inhibit capillary formation. Experimental Design: Cocultures of bovine retinal endothelial and SNB19 cells were analyzed for MMP-9 secretion, and phospho- and total ERK levels. These cocultures were treated with PD98059, a specific inhibitor of MAP/ERK kinase 1, or transfected with dominant-negative ERK-1 mutant containing expression vector. Alterations in capillary-like structure formation, and actin cytoskeleton and secretion of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), MMP-9, and tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-1 were determined by immunofluorescence, gelatin zymography, and Western blotting. Results: We found that inhibition of the ERK-1/2 pathway with PD98059 abrogated glial cell-mediated capillary formation by the endothelial cells and reduced the levels of MMP-9 in the coculture. Strikingly, the abrogation of MAP kinase signaling by a dominant-negative ERK-1 mutant inhibited glial-induced capillary network formation by reducing VEGF levels and MMP-9 activity and increasing the levels of tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-1. Inhibition of ERK activity also disrupted the formation of the actin cytoskeleton, a prerequisite for endothelial cell migration. Conclusion: The mechanism underlying activation of ERK is involved in reorganization of the actin cytoskeleton, and induction of VEGF and MMP-9, thereby stimulating endothelial cell morphogenesis. These studies clearly provide experimental evidence that ERK inhibition diminishes glial-induced endothelial-cell morphogenesis; therefore, interfering with ERK signaling may be a viable approach to target angiogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2342-2349
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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