Signaling pathways induced by vascular endothelial growth factor (review).
Published online on: May 1, 2000
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Vasculogenesis and angiogenesis are the mechanisms responsible for the development of the blood vessels. Angiogenesis refers to the formation of capillaries from pre-existing vessels in the embryo and adult organism, while vasculogenesis is the development of new blood vessels from the differentiation of endothelial precursors (angioblasts) in situ. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) family members are major mediators of vasculogenesis and angiogenesis both during development and in pathological conditions. VEGF has a variety of effects on vascular endothelium, including the ability to promote endothelial cell viability, mitogenesis, chemotaxis, and vascular permeability. It mediates its activity mainly via two tyrosine kinase receptors, VEGFR-1 (flt-1) and VEGFR-2 (flk-1/KDR), although other receptors, such as neuropilin-1 and -2, can also bind VEGF. Another tyrosine kinase receptor, VEGFR-3 (flt-4) binds VEGF-C and VEGF-D and is more important in the development of lymphatic vessels. While the functional effects of VEGF on endothelial cells has been well studied, not as much is known about VEGF signaling. This review summarizes the different pathways known to be involved in VEGF signal transduction and the biological responses triggered by the VEGF signaling cascade.