Little is known about the transcriptional regulation of tumor angiogenesis, and tumor ECs (tECs) remain poorly characterized. Here, we studied the expression pattern of the transcription factor Sox17 in the vasculature of murine and human tumors and investigated the function of Sox17 during tumor angiogenesis using Sox17 genetic mouse models. Sox17 was specifically expressed in tECs in a heterogeneous pattern; in particular, strong Sox17 expression distinguished tECs with high VEGFR2 expression. Whereas overexpression of Sox17 in tECs promoted tumor angiogenesis and vascular abnormalities, Sox17 deletion in tECs reduced tumor angiogenesis and normalized tumor vessels, inhibiting tumor growth. Tumor vessel normalization by Sox17 deletion was long lasting, improved anticancer drug delivery into tumors, and inhibited tumor metastasis. Sox17 promoted endothelial sprouting behavior and upregulated VEGFR2 expression in a cell-intrinsic manner. Moreover, Sox17 increased the percentage of tumor-associated CD11b+Gr-1+ myeloid cells within tumors. The vascular effects of Sox17 persisted throughout tumor growth. Interestingly, Sox17 expression specific to tECs was also observed in highly vascularized human glioblastoma samples. Our findings establish Sox17 as a key regulator of tumor angiogenesis and tumor progression.
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