Plasmalemmal vesicle-associated protein (PLVAP) is expressed by tumour endothelium and is upregulated by vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF)



Vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF) is an important regulator of vascular permeability. In preclinical studies, VEGF induces endothelial fenestrations in pre-existing and neo-vasculature, while inhibition of VEGF leads to a reduction in endothelial fenestrations. Recently, vascular regression in response to VEGF inhibition has been shown to correlate with the presence of endothelial fenestrations. Plasmalemmal vesicle-associated protein (PLVAP) is believed to be a component of diaphragmed endothelial fenestrations, but a direct relationship with VEGF signalling has not been established. The aim of this study was to characterize the expression pattern of PLVAP and investigate whether PLVAP is a transcriptional target of VEGF signal transduction. The expression pattern of PLVAP was characterized in normal and neoplastic human tissues by in situ hybridization and/or immunohistochemistry. The role of VEGF signal transduction in the regulation of PLVAP expression was investigated in vitro using receptor-selective engineered forms of VEGF, a neutralizing monoclonal antibody against VEGF, and inhibitors of downstream signalling pathways. PLVAP mRNA and protein were widely expressed in the endothelium of normal and neoplastic tissues. In cultured endothelial cells, VEGF signalling through receptor 2 stimulated expression of PLVAP total RNA and protein. This induction could be blocked with an anti-VEGF monoclonal antibody and by inhibitors of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (LY294002) or p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (SB203580), but not by PD98059, a mitogen-activated protein/extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1 inhibitor. These data show that PLVAP is more widely expressed in the vasculature of normal tissues than previously thought and that it is expressed in the vasculature of most human tumours. We suggest that PLVAP is a downstream target of VEGF signalling. This work solidifies the association between VEGF and the appearance and maintenance of fenestrations by providing a potential mechanistic link. Copyright © 2005 Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.