Unidirectional crosstalk between Bcl-x(L) and Bcl-2 enhances the angiogenic phenotype of endothelial cells

E Karl, Z Zhang, Z Dong, KG Neiva, MS Soengas, AE Koch, PJ Polverini, G Nunez, Jacques Nor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

33 Citations (Scopus)


Expression of Bcl-x(L) correlates with the clinical outcomes of patients with cancer. While the role of Bcl-2 in angiogenesis is becoming increasingly evident, the function of Bcl-x(L) in angiogenesis is unclear. Here, we showed that epidermal growth factor (EGF) induces in vitro capillary sprouting and Bcl-x(L) expression in primary endothelial cells. Bcl-x(L)-transduced human dermal microvascular endothelial cells (HDMEC-Bcl-x(L)), but not empty vector control cells, spontaneously organize into capillary-like sprouts. Searching for a mechanism to explain these responses, we observed that Bcl-x(L) induced expression of the pro-angiogenic chemokines CXC ligand-1 (CXCL1) and CXC ligand-8 (CXCL8), and that blockade of CXC receptor-2 (CXCR2) signaling inhibited spontaneous sprouting of HDMEC-Bcl-x(L). Bcl-x(L) led to Bcl-2 upregulation, but Bcl-2 did not upregulate Bcl-x(L), suggesting the existence of a unidirectional crosstalk from Bcl-x(L) to Bcl-2. EGF and Bcl-x(L) activate the mitogen-activated protein kinase/ERK pathway resulting in upregulation of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a known inducer of Bcl-2 in endothelial cells. Inhibition of VEGF receptor signaling in HDMEC-Bcl-x(L) prevented Bcl-2 upregulation and demonstrated the function of a VEGF-mediated autocrine loop. Bcl-2 downregulation by RNAi blocked CXCL1 and CXCL8 expression downstream of Bcl-x(L), and markedly decreased angiogenesis in vivo. We conclude that Bcl-x(L) functions as a pro-angiogenic signaling molecule controlling Bcl-2 and VEGF expression. These results emphasize a complex interplay between Bcl-2 family members beyond their classical roles in apoptosis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1657-1666
Number of pages10
JournalCell Death & Differentiation
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2007


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