To gain a molecular understanding of tumor angiogenesis, we compared gene expression patterns of endothelial cells derived from blood vessels of normal and malignant colorectal tissues. Of over 170 transcripts predominantly expressed in the endothelium, 79 were differentially expressed, including 46 that were specifically elevated in tumor-associated endothelium. Several of these genes encode extracellular matrix proteins, but most are of unknown function. Most of these tumor endothelial markers were expressed in a wide range of tumor types, as well as in normal vessels associated with wound healing and corpus luteum formation. These studies demonstrate that tumor and normal endothelium are distinct at the molecular level, a finding that may have significant implications for the development of anti-angiogenic therapies.
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