Vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF) signals primarily through its cognate receptor VEGF receptor-2 (VEGFR-2) to control vasculogenesis and angiogenesis, key physiological processes in cardiovascular disease and cancer. In human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs), knockdown of protein kinase D-1 (PKD1) or PKD2 down-regulates VEGFR-2 expression and inhibits VEGF-induced cell proliferation and migration. However, how PKD regulates VEGF signaling is unclear. Previous bioinformatics analyses have identified binding sites for the transcription factor activating enhancer-binding protein 2 (AP2) in the VEGFR-2 promoter. Using ChIP analyses, here we found that PKD knockdown in HUVECs increases binding of AP2β to the VEGFR-2 promoter. Luciferase reporter assays with serial deletions of AP2-binding sites within the VEGFR-2 promoter revealed that its transcriptional activity negatively correlates with the number of these sites. Next we demonstrated that AP2β up-regulation decreases VEGFR-2 expression and that loss of AP2β enhances VEGFR-2 expression in HUVECs. In vivo experiments confirmed increased VEGFR-2 immunostaining in the spinal cord of AP2β knockout mouse embryos. Mechanistically, we observed that PKD phosphorylates AP2β at Ser258 and Ser277 and suppresses its nuclear accumulation. Inhibition of PKD activity with a pan-PKD inhibitor increased AP2β nuclear localization, and overexpression of both WT and constitutively active PKD1 or PKD2 reduced AP2β nuclear localization through a Ser258- and Ser277-dependent mechanism. Furthermore, substitution of Ser277 in AP2β increased its binding to the VEGFR-2 promoter. Our findings uncover evidence of a molecular pathway that regulates VEGFR-2 expression, insights that may shed light on the etiology of diseases associated with aberrant VEGF/VEGFR signaling.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by NHLBI, National Institutes of Health Grant HL140411 (to D. M.); NCI, National Institutes of Health Grants CA78383-20 (to D. M.), CA187035 (to L. H. H.), and CA200572 (to P. S.); Florida Depart-ment of Health Cancer Research Chair Fund Florida Grant 3J-02 (to D. M.); American Heart Association Grants 13POST14510025 (to L. H. H.) and 19CDA34700013 (to Y. W.); and Mayo Clinic Ted and Loretta Rogers Cardio-vascular Career Development Award Honoring Hugh C. Smith (to Y. W.). The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest with the con-tents of this article. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Insti-tutes of Health.
© 2019 Wang et al.
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