Anthrax lethal toxin inhibits growth of and vascular endothelial growth factor release from endothelial cells expressing the human herpes virus 8 viral G protein-coupled receptor

Philippe Depeille, John J. Young, Elissa A. Boguslawski, Bree D. Berghuis, Eric J. Kort, James H. Resau, Arthur E. Frankel, Nicholas S. Duesbery

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Purpose: In this study, we tested the hypothesis that inhibition of mitogen-activated protein kinase kinases (MKK) inhibits tumor growth by acting on angiogenic signaling and by extension may form the basis of an effective strategy for treatment of Kaposi's sarcoma. Experimental Design: Murine endothelial cells expressing the human herpes virus 8 G protein-coupled receptor (vGPCR-SVEC) were treated with anthrax lethal toxin (LeTx). LeTx is a binary toxin ordinarily secreted by Bacillus anthracis and is composed of two proteins: protective antigen (the binding moiety) and lethal factor (the active moiety). Lethal factor is a protease that cleaves and inactivates MKKs. Results: In vitro, treatment of vGPCR-SVEC with LeTx inhibited MKK signaling, moderately inhibited cell proliferation, and blocked the ability of these cells to form colonies in soft agar. Treatment with LeTx also blocked the ability of these cells to release several angioproliferative cytokines, notably vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). In contrast, inhibition of mitogen-activated protein kinase/extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 with U0126 caused a substantial inhibition of proliferation but only modestly inhibited VEGF release. In xenograft models, i.v. injection of LeTx caused reduced tumor growth characterized immunohistochemically by inhibition of MKK signaling, decreased rates of proliferation, and reduced levels of VEGF and VEGF receptor 2, with a corresponding decrease in vascular density. Conclusions: These data support a role for MKK signaling in tumor growth and vascularization and are consistent with the hypothesis that inhibition of MKK signaling by LeTx or a similar agent may be an effective strategy for the treatment of Kaposi's sarcoma as well as other vascular tumors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5926-5934
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 1 2007


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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