Regulation of tumor angiogenesis and mesenchymal-endothelial transition by p38α through TGF-β and JNK signaling.
Batlle Raquel,Andrés Eva,Gonzalez Lorena,Llonch Elisabet,Igea Ana,Gutierrez-Prat Núria,Berenguer-Llergo Antoni,Nebreda Angel R
The formation of new blood vessels is essential for normal development, tissue repair and tumor growth. Here we show that inhibition of the kinase p38α enhances angiogenesis in human and mouse colon tumors. Mesenchymal cells can contribute to tumor angiogenesis by regulating proliferation and migration of endothelial cells. We show that p38α negatively regulates an angiogenic program in mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (MSCs), multipotent progenitors found in perivascular locations. This program includes the acquisition of an endothelial phenotype by MSCs mediated by both TGF-β and JNK, and negatively regulated by p38α. Abrogation of p38α in mesenchymal cells increases tumorigenesis, which correlates with enhanced angiogenesis. Using genetic models, we show that p38α regulates the acquisition of an endothelial-like phenotype by mesenchymal cells in colon tumors and damage tissue. Taken together, our results indicate that p38α in mesenchymal cells restrains a TGF-β-induced angiogenesis program including their ability to transdifferentiate into endothelial cells.