Targeting neuropilin-1 to inhibit VEGF signaling in cancer: Comparison of therapeutic approaches

Feilim Mac Gabhann, Aleksander S. Popel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Angiogenesis (neovascularization) plays a crucial role in a variety of physiological and pathological conditions including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and wound healing. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a critical regulator of angiogenesis. Multiple VEGF receptors are expressed on endothelial cells, including signaling receptor tyrosine kinases (VEGFR1 and VEGFR2) and the nonsignaling co-receptor Neuropilin-1. Neuropilin-1 binds only the isoform of VEGF responsible for pathological angiogenesis (VEGF 165), and is thus a potential target for inhibiting VEGF signaling. Using the first molecularly detailed computational model of VEGF and its receptors, we have shown previously that the VEGFR-Neuropilin interactions explain the observed differential effects of VEGF isoforms on VEGF signaling in vitro, and demonstrated potent VEGF inhibition by an antibody to Neuropilin-1 that does not block ligand binding but blocks subsequent receptor coupling. In the present study, we extend that computational model to simulation of in vivo VEGF transport and binding, and predict the in vivo efficacy of several Neuropilin-targeted therapies in inhibiting VEGF signaling: (a) blocking Neuropilin-1 expression; (b) blocking VEGF binding to Neuropilin-1; (c) blocking Neuropilin-VEGFR coupling. The model predicts that blockade of Neuropilin-VEGFR coupling is significantly more effective than other approaches in decreasing VEGF-VEGFR2 signaling. In addition, tumor types with different receptor expression levels respond differently to each of these treatments. In designing human therapeutics, the mechanism of attacking the target plays a significant role in the outcome: of the strategies tested here, drugs with similar properties to the Neuropilin-1 antibody are predicted to be most effective. The tumor type and the microenvironment of the target tissue are also significant in determining therapeutic efficacy of each of the treatments studied.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1649-1662
Number of pages14
JournalPLoS computational biology
Volume2
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics

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