Journal article

Angiopoietin-2 regulates gene expression in TIE2-expressing monocytes and augments their inherent proangiogenic functions

TIE2-expressing monocytes/macrophages (TEM) are a highly proangiogenic subset of myeloid cells in tumors. Here, we show that circulating human TEMs are already preprogrammed in the circulation to be more angiogenic and express higher levels of such proangiogenic genes as matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9), VEGFA, COX-2, and WNT5A than TIE2(-) monocytes. Additionally, angiopoietin-2 (ANG-2) markedly enhanced the proangiogenic activity of TEMs and increased their expression of two proangiogenic enzymes: thymidine phosphorylase (TP) and cathepsin B (CTSB). Three "alternatively activated" (or M2-like) macrophage markers were also upregulated by ANG-2 in TEMs: interleukin-10, mannose receptor (MRC1), and CCL17. To investigate the effects of ANG-2 on the phenotype and function of TEMs in tumors, we used a double-transgenic (DT) mouse model in which ANG-2 was specifically overexpressed by endothelial cells. Syngeneic tumors grown in these ANG-2 DT mice were more vascularized and contained greater numbers of TEMs than those in wild-type (WT) mice. In both tumor types, expression of MMP-9 and MRC1 was mainly restricted to tumor TEMs rather than TIE2(-) macrophages. Furthermore, tumor TEMs expressed higher levels of MRC1, TP, and CTSB in ANG-2 DT tumors than WT tumors. Taken together, our data show that although circulating TEMs are innately proangiogenic, exposure to tumor-derived ANG-2 stimulates these cells to exhibit a broader, tumor-promoting phenotype. As such, the ANG-2-TEM axis may represent a new target for antiangiogenic cancer therapies.

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