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      Inhibition of VEGF Expression by Targeting HIF-1α with Small Interference RNA in Human RPE Cells

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          Abstract

          Background: Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is upregulated by hypoxia and is a major stimulatory factor for choroidal neovascularization. The upregulation of VEGF expression in response to hypoxia occurs through hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1), which is a transcription factor that regulates genes involved in the response to hypoxia. HIF-1α is the inducible subunit of the HIF-1. Aims: To further define HIF-1 function in angiogenesis and to explore novel approaches to modulate choroidal neovascularization in age-related macular degeneration. Methods: In this study, we examined the response of human retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells to hypoxia and employed the small interference RNA technique to knock down gene expression of HIF-1α in RPE cells. Results: We found that both the mRNA and protein levels of HIF-1α in the RPE cells increased in response to hypoxia, followed by increasing expression of VEGF. Both the mRNA and protein levels of HIF-1α and VEGF in the RPE cells were decreased dramatically after transfection with a HIF-1α-specific small interference RNA vector. Conclusion: Our results suggest that HIF-1 may be involved in angiogenesis by controlling the expression of VEGF in vivo and provide a possible strategy for the treatment of angiogenesis by targeting the HIF-1α in ischemic retinopathies.

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          Most cited references 11

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          Vascular permeability factor/vascular endothelial growth factor: a critical cytokine in tumor angiogenesis and a potential target for diagnosis and therapy.

           Harold Dvorak (2002)
          Vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A), the founding member of the vascular permeability factor (VPF)/VEGF family of proteins, is an important angiogenic cytokine with critical roles in tumor angiogenesis. This article reviews the literature with regard to VEGF-A's multiple functions, the mechanisms by which it induces angiogenesis, and its current and projected roles in clinical oncology. VEGF-A is a multifunctional cytokine that is widely expressed by tumor cells and that acts through receptors (VEGFR-1, VEGFR-2, and neuropilin) that are expressed on vascular endothelium and on some other cells. It increases microvascular permeability, induces endothelial cell migration and division, reprograms gene expression, promotes endothelial cell survival, prevents senescence, and induces angiogenesis. Recently, VEGF-A has also been shown to induce lymphangiogenesis. Measurements of circulating levels of VEGF-A may have value in estimating prognosis, and VEGF-A and its receptors are potential targets for therapy. Recognized as the single most important angiogenic cytokine, VEGF-A has a central role in tumor biology and will likely have an important role in future approaches designed to evaluate patient prognosis. It may also become an important target for cancer therapy.
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            RNA interference by expression of short-interfering RNAs and hairpin RNAs in mammalian cells.

            Duplexes of 21-nt RNAs, known as short-interfering RNAs (siRNAs), efficiently inhibit gene expression by RNA interference (RNAi) when introduced into mammalian cells. We show that siRNAs can be synthesized by in vitro transcription with T7 RNA polymerase, providing an economical alternative to chemical synthesis of siRNAs. By using this method, we show that short hairpin siRNAs can function like siRNA duplexes to inhibit gene expression in a sequence-specific manner. Further, we find that hairpin siRNAs or siRNAs expressed from an RNA polymerase III vector based on the mouse U6 RNA promoter can effectively inhibit gene expression in mammalian cells. U6-driven hairpin siRNAs dramatically reduced the expression of a neuron-specific beta-tubulin protein during the neuronal differentiation of mouse P19 cells, demonstrating that this approach should be useful for studies of differentiation and neurogenesis. We also observe that mismatches within hairpin siRNAs can increase the strand selectivity of a hairpin siRNA, which may reduce self-targeting of vectors expressing siRNAs. Use of hairpin siRNA expression vectors for RNAi should provide a rapid and versatile method for assessing gene function in mammalian cells, and may have applications in gene therapy.
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              Increased expression of angiogenic growth factors in age-related maculopathy.

              The late stages of age-related maculopathy (ARM), especially neovascular macular degeneration (ARMD), can severely affect central vision and are the main cause of blindness in the elderly in the Western world. It has been shown that angiogenic growth factors are present in neovascular membranes in ARMD. However, it is not known if angiogenic growth factors play a role in the onset of neovascularisation. In order to elucidate the involvement of angiogenic growth factors in the initiation of neovascularisation in early stages of ARM, the expression patterns of VEGF, TGF-beta, b-FGF, and PDGF-AA on 18 human maculae with ARM, and on 11 control specimens were investigated immunohistochemically. A significantly increased expression of VEGF (p = 0.00001) and TGF-beta (p = 0.019) was found in the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) of maculae with ARM compared with control maculae. Furthermore, an increased expression of VEGF and PDGF was found in the outer nuclear layer of maculae with ARM. These results demonstrate an increased expression of VEGF in the RPE, and in the outer nuclear layer in maculae with ARM, that could be involved in the pathogenesis of neovascular macular degeneration. Furthermore, enhanced TGF-beta expression in the RPE cells of maculae with early stages of ARM was shown.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                OPH
                Ophthalmologica
                10.1159/issn.0030-3755
                Ophthalmologica
                S. Karger AG
                0030-3755
                1423-0267
                2007
                October 2007
                22 October 2007
                : 221
                : 6
                : 411-417
                Affiliations
                Department of Ophthalmology, Xijing Hospital, Fourth Military Medical University, Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, PR China
                Article
                107502 Ophthalmologica 2007;221:411–417
                10.1159/000107502
                17947829
                © 2007 S. Karger AG, Basel

                Copyright: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be translated into other languages, reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, microcopying, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in government regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug. Disclaimer: The statements, opinions and data contained in this publication are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publishers and the editor(s). The appearance of advertisements or/and product references in the publication is not a warranty, endorsement, or approval of the products or services advertised or of their effectiveness, quality or safety. The publisher and the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content or advertisements.

                Page count
                Figures: 3, References: 23, Pages: 7
                Categories
                Original Paper

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