Background: Hypoxia-induced mitogenic factor (HIMF) is developmentally regulated and plays an important role in lung pathogenesis. We initially found that HIMF promotes vascular tubule formation in a matrigel plug model. In this study, we investigated the mechanisms which HIMF enhances expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in lung tissues and epithelial cells. Methods: Recombinant HIMF protein was intratracheally instilled into adult mouse lungs, VEGF expression was examined by immunohistochemical staining and Western blot. The promoterluciferase reporter assay, RT-PCR, and Western blot were performed to examine the effects of HIMF on VEGF expression in mouse lung epithelial cell line MLE-12. The activation of NF-kappa B (NF-κB) and phosphorylation of Akt, IKK and IκBα were examined by luciferase assay and Western blot, respectively. Results: Intratracheal instillation of HIMF protein resulted in significant increase of VEGF, mainly localized to airway epithelial and alveolar type II cells. Deletion of NF-κB binding sites within VEGF promoter abolished HIMF-induced VEGF expression in MLE-12 cells, suggesting that activation of NF-κB is essential for VEGF upregulation induced by HIMF. Stimulation of lung epithelial cells by HIMF resulted in phosphorylation of IKK and IκBα, leading to activation of NF-κB. In addition, HIMF strongly induced Akt phosphorylation, and suppression of Akt activation by specific inhibitors and dominant negative mutants for PI-3K, and IKK or IκBα blocked HIMF-induced NF-κB activation and attenuated HIMF-induced VEGF production. Conclusion: These results suggest that HIMF enhances VEGF production in mouse lung epithelial cells in a PI-3K/Akt-NF-κB signaling pathway -dependent manner, and may play critical roles in pulmonary angiogenesis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine