Blocking CLEC14A-MMRN2 binding inhibits sprouting angiogenesis and tumour growth.
Noy PJ., Lodhia P., Khan K., Zhuang X., Ward DG., Verissimo AR., Bacon A., Bicknell R.
We previously identified CLEC14A as a tumour endothelial marker. Here we show that CLEC14A is a regulator of sprouting angiogenesis in vitro and in vivo. Using a human umbilical vein endothelial cell spheroid-sprouting assay, we found CLEC14A to be a regulator of sprout initiation. Analysis of endothelial sprouting in aortic ring and in vivo subcutaneous sponge assays from clec14a(+/+) and clec14a(-/-) mice revealed defects in sprouting angiogenesis in CLEC14A-deficient animals. Tumour growth was retarded and vascularity reduced in clec14a(-/-) mice. Pull-down and co-immunoprecipitation experiments confirmed that MMRN2 binds to the extracellular region of CLEC14A. The CLEC14A-MMRN2 interaction was interrogated using mouse monoclonal antibodies. Monoclonal antibodies were screened for their ability to block this interaction. Clone C4, but not C2, blocked CLEC14A-MMRN2 binding. C4 antibody perturbed tube formation and endothelial sprouting in vitro and in vivo, with a similar phenotype to loss of CLEC14A. Significantly, tumour growth was impaired in C4-treated animals and vascular density was also reduced in the C4-treated group. We conclude that CLEC14A-MMRN2 binding has a role in inducing sprouting angiogenesis during tumour growth, which has the potential to be manipulated in future antiangiogenic therapy design.