In vitro model of angiogenesis using a human endothelium-derived permanent cell line: Contributions of induced gene expression, G-proteins, and integrins



The EA hy926 cell line is a continuous, clonable, human cell line that displays a number of features characteristic of vascular endothelial cells (Edgell et al., 1983). Here we report that when EA hy926 cells (EA cells) are plated on an extracellular matrix material [Matrigel®], they undergo a process of morphological re-organization leading to the formation of a complex network of cord or tubelike structures. These events seem to resemble, in some respects, an in vitro process of angiogenesis. The morphological re-arrangement occurs within a 12–16 hr period and seems to require expression of new messenger RNA and protein, since it is completely blocked when actinomycin D or cycloheximide are present at the time the cells are plated on Matrigel. This is not due to overt toxicity of the drugs, since exposure of cells to actinomycin D at 2 hr or more after plating on Matrigel has little effect on the formation of the tubelike structures. The process of Matrigelinduced tube formation also apparently involves a G-protein mediated signal. Treatment of the EA cells with pertussis toxin completely blocks the process and causes the ADP-ribosylation of a 42 kD protein that is recognized by an antibody to Gi-alpha subunits. In contrast, concentrations of pertussis toxin sufficient to block tube formation have only modest effects on the adhesion or motility of EA cells on purified matrix components such as laminin or collagen IV. The process of Matrigel-induced tube formation also involves integrins since monoclonal antibodies to integrin alpha6 or beta 1 subunits can completely block the process. The concentrations of anti-integrin antibodies needed to block tube formation are much lower than those required to block cell adhesion on purified matrix components and are sufficient to occupy less than 10% of the alpha6 or beta 1 subunits available at the cell surface. These results suggest that integrins may be involved in this potential model of angiogenesis in processes beyond their usual role in cell adhesion. Based on these results, it seems likely that the EA hy 926 cell line will prove to be a useful model for in vitro study of angiogenic processes. © 1992 Wiley-Liss, Inc.