Neuropilin-1 (Nrp1), an essential type I transmembrane receptor, binds two secreted ligand families, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and class III Semaphorin (Sema3). VEGF-A and Sema3F have opposing roles in regulating Nrp1 vascular function in angiogenesis. VEGF-A functions as one of the most potent pro-angiogenic cytokines, while Sema3F is a uniquely potent endogenous angiogenesis inhibitor. Sema3 family members require proteolytic processing by furin to allow competitive binding to Nrp1. We demonstrate that the furin-processed C-terminal domain of Sema3F (C-furSema) potently inhibits VEGF-A-dependent activation of endothelial cells. We find that this potent activity is due to unique heterobivalent engagement of Nrp1 by two distinct sites in the C-terminal domain of Sema3F. One of the sites is the C-terminal arginine, liberated by furin cleavage, and the other is a novel upstream helical motif centered on the intermolecular disulfide. Using a novel chimeric C-furSema, we demonstrate that combining a single C-terminal arginine with the helical motif is necessary and sufficient for potent inhibition of binding of VEGF-A to Nrp1. We further demonstrate that the multiple furin-processed variants of Sema3A, with the altered proximity of the two binding motifs, have dramatically different potencies. This suggests that furin processing not only switches Sema3 to an activated form but also, depending on the site processed, can also tune potency. These data establish the basis for potent competitive binding of Sema3 to Nrp1 and provide a basis for the design of bivalent Nrp inhibitors.
ASJC Scopus subject areas