Extracellular matrix-evoked angiostasis and autophagy within the tumor microenvironment represent two critical, but unconnected, functions of the small leucine-rich proteoglycan, decorin. Acting as a partial agonist of vascular endothelial growth factor 2 (VEGFR2), soluble decorin signals via the energy sensing protein, AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), in the autophagic degradation of intracellular vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGFA). Here, we discovered that soluble decorin evokes intracellular catabolism of endothelial VEGFA that is mechanistically independent of mTOR, but requires an autophagic regulator, paternally expressed gene 3 (PEG3). We found that administration of autophagic inhibitors such as chloroquine or bafilomycin A1, or depletion of autophagy-related 5 (ATG5), results in accumulation of intracellular VEGFA, indicating that VEGFA is a basal autophagic substrate. Mechanistically, decorin increased the VEGFA clearance rate by augmenting autophagic flux, a process that required RAB24 member RAS oncogene family (RAB24), a small GTPase that facilitates the disposal of autophagic compartments. We validated these findings by demonstrating the physiological relevance of this process in vivo Mice starved for 48 h exhibited a sharp decrease in overall cardiac and aortic VEGFA that could be blocked by systemic chloroquine treatment. Thus, our findings reveal a unified mechanism for the metabolic control of endothelial VEGFA for autophagic clearance in response to decorin and canonical pro-autophagic stimuli. We posit that the VEGFR2/AMPK/PEG3 axis integrates the anti-angiogenic and pro-autophagic bioactivities of decorin as the molecular basis for tumorigenic suppression. These results support future therapeutic use of decorin as a next-generation protein therapy to combat cancer.
Neill, Thomas; Chen, Carolyn; Buraschi, Simone; and Iozzo, Renato V., "Catabolic degradation of endothelial VEGFA via autophagy" (2020). Department of Pathology, Anatomy, and Cell Biology Faculty Papers. Paper 328.
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