Multi-potent adult progenitor cells (MAPCs) differentiate into endothelial cells (ECs) in the presence of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). The mechanism(s) of VEGF-induced differentiation of MAPCs to ECs are not yet known. We, therefore, examined the role of mitogen-activated protein kinase/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (p42/44-MAPK/ERK1/2) signalling in endothelial differentiation from bone marrow stem cells. We observed that VEGF stimulation of MAPCs for 14 days results in a significant expression of endothelial-specific gene and/or proteins including von Willebrand factor (vWF), vascular endothelial-cadherin (VE-cadherin), VEGF receptor-2 (VEGFR2), and CD31. Up-regulation of EC-specific markers was accompanied by a cobblestone morphology, expression of endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS), and Dil-Ac-LDL uptake, typical for EC morphology and function. VEGF induced a sustained activation of p42 MAPK/ERK, but not that of p44 MAPK/ERK during the course of MAPCs differentiation in a time-dependent manner up to 14 days. VEGF-induced activation of p42 MAPK/ERK also led to the nuclear translocation of MAPK/ERK1/2. Incubation of MAPCs with MAPK/ERK1/2 phosphorylation inhibitor PD98059 blocked the sustained VEGF-induced MAPK/ERK1/2 phosphorylation as well as its nuclear translocation in the differentiating MAPCs. Inhibition of MAPK/ERK1/2 phosphorylation by PD98059 also blocked the expression of EC-specific genes in these cells and their differentiation to ECs. These data suggest that VEGF induces MAPC differentiation into EC via a. MAPK/ERK1/2 signalling pathway-mediated mechanism in vitro.
- Endothelial cell