Alternative splicing leads to the secretion of multiple forms of vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF-A) that differ in their activity profiles with respect to neovascularization. FSAP (factor VII activating protease) is the zymogen form of a plasma protease that is activated (FSAPa) upon tissue injury via the release of histones. The purpose of the study was to determine if FSAPa regulates VEGF-A activity in vitro and in vivo. FSAP bound to VEGF165, but not VEGF121, and VEGF165 was cleaved in its neuropilin/proteoglycan binding domain. VEGF165 cleavage did not alter its binding to VEGF receptors but diminished its binding to neuropilin. The stimulatory effects of VEGF165 on endothelial cell proliferation, migration, and signal transduction were not altered by FSAP. Similarly, proliferation of VEGF receptor-expressing BAF3 cells, in response to VEGF165, was not modulated by FSAP. In the mouse matrigel model of angiogenesis, FSAP decreased the ability of VEGF165, basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), and their combination, to induce neovascularization. Lack of endogenous FSAP in mice did not influence neovascularization. Thus, FSAP inhibited VEGF165-mediated angiogenesis in the matrigel model in vivo, where VEGF’s interaction with the matrix and its diffusion are important.
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