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Maia J.,University of Coimbra | Vazao H.,University of Coimbra | Vazao H.,Biocant Center for Innovation and Biotechnology | Pedroso D.C.S.,University of Coimbra | And 9 more authors.
Biomacromolecules | Year: 2012

Herein, we report that VEGF-functionalized dextran (dexOx-VEGF) is comparatively superior to free VEGF in prolonging the phosphorylation of VEGF receptor 2 (VEGFR-2). Both dexOx-VEGF and free VEGF activate VEGFR-2, and the complexes are internalized into early endosomes (EEA1+ vesicles) and then transported to lysosomes (Rab7+ vesicles). However, after cell activation, dexOx-VEGF is preferentially colocalized in early endosomes where VEGF signaling is still active while free VEGF is preferentially transported to late endosomes or lysosomes. We further show that dexOx-VEGF after phosphorylation of VEGF receptor 2 induces an increase of intracellular Ca 2+ and activates VEGF downstream effectors such as Akt and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK1/2) proteins. Under specific conditions, the activation level is different from the one observed for free VEGF, thus suggesting mechanistic differences, which is illustrated by cell migration and cord-like formation studies. DexOx-VEGF can be cross-linked with adipic acid dihydrazide to form a degradable gel, which in turn can be incorporated in a fibrin gel containing endothelial cells (ECs) to modulate their activity. We envision that these constructs might be beneficial to extend the pro-angiogenic activity of VEGF in ischemic tissues and to modulate the biological activity of vascular cells. © 2012 American Chemical Society.

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