Endorepellin evokes autophagy in endothelial cells [Cell Biology]

April 15th, 2014 by Poluzzi, C., Casulli, J., Goyal, A., Mercer, T. J., Neill, T., Iozzo, R. V.

Endorepellin, the C-terminal fragment of the heparan sulfate proteoglycan perlecan, possesses angiostatic activity via dual receptor antagonism, through concurrent binding to the α2β1 integrin and vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2 (VEGFR2). Here, we discovered that soluble endorepellin induced autophagy in endothelial cells by modulating the expression of Beclin 1, LC3 and p62, three established autophagic markers. Moreover, endorepellin evoked expression of the imprinted tumor suppressor gene Peg3 and its colocalizion with Beclin 1 and LC3 in autophagosomes, suggesting a major role for this gene in endothelial cell autophagy. Mechanistically, endorepellin induced autophagy by downregulating VEGFR2 via the two LG1/2 domains, whereas the C-terminal LG3 domain, the portion responsible for binding the α2β1 integrin, was ineffective. Endorepellin also induced transcriptional activity of the BECN1 promoter in endothelial cells and the VEGFR2 specific tyrosine kinase inhibitor, SU5416, blocked this effect. Finally, we found a correlation between endorepellin-evoked inhibition of capillary morphogenesis and enhanced autophagy. Thus, we have identified a new role for this endogenous angiostatic fragment in inducing autophagy through a VEGFR2-dependent but α2β1-integrin independent pathway. This novel mechanism specifically targets endothelial cells and could represent a promising new strategy to potentiate the angiostatic effect of endorepellin and perhaps other angiostatic matrix proteins.