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Osteopontin and β3 Integrin Are Coordinately Expressed in Regenerating Endothelium In Vivo and Stimulate Arg-Gly-Asp–Dependent Endothelial Migration In Vitro

Osteopontin is an Arg-Gly-Asp (RGD)–containing acidic glycoprotein postulated to mediate cellular adhesion and migration in a growing number of normal and pathological conditions through interaction with integrin molecules. In this report, we have investigated the potential contributions of osteopontin and one of its receptors, the αvβ3 integrin, to endothelial regenerative processes by using both in vivo and in vitro models. In vivo, uninjured rat arterial endothelium had undetectable levels of osteopontin and β3-integrin mRNA by in situ hybridization. After balloon catheter denudation, osteopontin mRNA levels correlated temporally and spatially with active endothelial proliferation and migration, with the highest levels observed at the wound edge between 8 hours and 2 weeks after injury, declining to uninjured levels at 6 weeks, when regeneration was complete. Osteopontin protein levels, as determined by immunocytochemistry, paralleled the time course of mRNA expression. Likewise, β3-integrin mRNA and protein levels were substantially elevated in regenerating endothelial cells but were not detectable in uninjured or healed endothelium. In vitro, rat smooth muscle cell–derived and bacterial expressed mouse recombinant osteopontins both stimulated the adhesion and directed migration of bovine aortic endothelial cells through interactions with the αvβ3 receptor. Structural mutants of osteopontin confirmed the importance of the RGD domain for both adhesion and migration of endothelial cells through αvβ3. These data suggest important roles for osteopontin and β3 integrin in regenerating endothelium.

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Rapid and quantitative in vitro measurement of cellular chemotaxis and invasion

An in vitro, fluorimetric method for cellular chemotaxis and invasion has been developed using a commercially available, disposable, 96-well chamber. This 4–18 hour microtiter chamber assay has a number of important advantages over existing methods. It does not require prior labeling of cells or radioactivity, and is rapid, automatable and quantitative. Cells are quantitated by a novel actin-based fluorescence tag as reported previously (Methods in Cell Science 17: 263–270, 1995). Following quantitation, cells are easily detectable by fluorescence microscopy. In addition, this assay conserves reagents due to its low volumes in the upper and lower chambers. The assay has been optimized using cultured human lung cancer cells to identify inhibitors or activators of directed cell migration. The effects of antibodies to agrVbeta3, agrVbeta5, and CD44 on the chemotaxis and invasion of A549 cultured lung tumor cells are reported.

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Direct Cell Adhesion to the Angiopoietins Mediated by Integrins

Genetic ablation of angiopoietin-1 (Ang-1) or of its cognate receptor, Tie2, disrupts angiogenesis in mouse embryos. The endothelial cells in growing blood vessels of Ang-1 knockout mice have a rounded appearance and are poorly associated with one another and their underlying basement membranes (Dumont, D. J., Gradwohl, G., Fong, G. H., Puri, M. C., Gertsenstein, M., Auerbach, A., and Breitman, M. L. (1994) Genes Dev. 8, 1897–1909; Sato, T. N., Tozawa, Y., Deutsch, U., Wolburg-Buchholz, K., Fujiwara, Y., Gendron-Maguire, M., Gridley, T., Wolburg, H., Risau, W., and Qin, Y. (1995) Nature 376, 70–74; Suri, C., Jones, P. F., Patan, S., Bartunkova, S., Maisonpierre, P. C., Davis, S., Sato, T. N., and Yancopoulos, G. D. (1996) Cell 87, 1171–1180). It is therefore possible that Ang-1 regulates endothelial cell adhesion. In this study we asked whether Ang-1 might act as a direct substrate for cell adhesion. Human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) plated for a brief period on different substrates were found to adhere and spread well on Ang-1. Similar results were seen on angiopoietin-2 (Ang-2)-coated surfaces, although cells did not spread well on Ang-2. Ang-1, but not Ang-2, supported HUVEC migration, and this was independent of growth factor activity. When the same experiments were done with fibroblasts that either lacked, or stably expressed, Tie2, results similar to those with HUVECs were seen, suggesting that adhesion to the angiopoietins was independent of Tie2 and not limited to endothelial cells. Interestingly, when integrin-blocking agents were included in these assays, adhesion to either angiopoietin was significantly reduced. Moreover, Chinese hamster ovary-B2 cells lacking the α5 integrin subunit did not adhere to Ang-1, but they did adhere to Ang-2. Stable expression of the human α5 integrin subunit in these cells rescued adhesion to Ang-1 and promoted an increase in adhesion to Ang-2. We also found that Ang-1 and Ang-2 bind rather selectively to vitronectin. These results suggest that, beyond their role in modulating Tie2 signaling, Ang-1 and Ang-2 can directly support cell adhesion mediated by integrins.