The Role of Histidine-rich Glycoprotein in Angiogenesis and Tumor Growth

Sammanfattning: Histidine-rich glycoprotein (HRG) is a heparin-binding plasma protein modulating immune, hemostatic and vascular functions. I have studied the antiangiogenic functions of HRG in vitro and in vivo in order to understand the molecular mechanisms of action of HRG as an angiogenesis inhibitor. Angiogenesis is the formation of new blood vessels from the pre-existing vasculature. It is a central rate-limiting step of tumor development and thus a possible target for cancer therapeutics. Previous studies have shown that HRG has antiangiogenic functions in vivo and that the antiangiogenic effects are mediated via the proteolytically released His/Pro-rich domain of HRG. In this thesis we demonstrate that HRG can inhibit endothelial cell migration by interfering with focal adhesion and cytoskeletal turnover. Moreover we have identified the minimal active domain of HRG, a 35 amino acid peptide derived from the histidine- and proline-rich domain of HRG. Analyzing human tumor tissue samples, we have found that a His/Pro-rich fragment of HRG is bound to the vasculature from cancer patients but not to the vasculature from healthy individuals. The fragment is found in association with platelets, and we show that activated platelets can induce a functional microenvironment for the His/Pro-rich fragment. Cancer patients often display an increased coagulation and our data describe a new mechanism to confer specificity of an angiogenesis inhibitor for situations with enhanced platelet activation, as in the tumor. We have further studied the role of HRG in tumor growth by crossing HRG-deficient mice with a transgenic mouse model of pancreatic insulinoma. We show that mice lacking HRG display an elevated “angiogenic switch” and that the total tumor volume is larger in these mice than in wild type mice. HRG is also involved in regulation of platelet function and platelets can stimulate angiogenesis in various ways. We have depleted mice of platelets to study the possible connection between the function of HRG in angiogenesis and platelet regulation. Our data suggest an involvement of platelets in the antiangiogenic activities of HRG.