Product(s) used in this publication: PepStar™ Peptide Microarrays
Genetic and molecular studies suggest that activin receptor-like kinase 1 (ALK1), a transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) type I receptor, and endoglin, a TGF-β co-receptor, play an essential role in vascular development and pathological angiogenesis. Several agents that interfere with ALK1 and endoglin function are currently in clinical trials for antiangiogenic activity in cancer therapy. One of these agents, PF-03446962 (anti-hALK1 antibody), shows promising results in the clinic. However, its effects on endothelial cell function and mechanism of action are unclear. Here we demonstrate that anti-hALK1 antibody selectively recognizes human ALK1. The anti-hALK1 antibody interfered with bone morphogenetic protein 9 (BMP9)-induced signaling in endothelial cells. Consistent with this notion, anti-hALK1 antibody was found to compete highly efficiently with the binding of the ALK1 ligand BMP9 and TGF-β to ALK1. Moreover, it prevented BMP9-dependent recruitment of co-receptor endoglin into this angiogenesis-mediating signaling complex. In addition, we demonstrated that anti-hALK1 antibody inhibited endothelial cell sprouting but did not directly interfere with vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) signaling, VEGF-induced proliferation, and migration of endothelial cells. Finally, we demonstrated that BMP9 in serum is essential for endothelial sprouting and that anti-hALK1 antibody inhibits this potently. Our data suggest that both the VEGF/VEGF receptor and the BMP9/ALK1 pathways are essential for stimulating angiogenesis, and targeting both pathways simultaneously may be an attractive strategy to overcome resistance to antiangiogenesis therapy.