Inhibition of endothelial cell proliferation and angiogenesis is emerging as an important strategy in cancer therapeutics. Kringle 5 (K5) of human plasminogen is a potent angiogenesis inhibitor. Previous studies have shown K5 exposure promotes caspase activity and apoptosis in endothelial cells. Here we report that K5 treatment evokes an autophagic response in endothelial cells that is specific and initiated even in the absence of nutritional stress. Endothelial cells exposed to K5 up-regulated Beclin 1 levels within a few hours. Furthermore, progressively increasing amounts of antiapoptotic Bcl-2 were found to be complexed with Beclin 1, although total levels of Bcl-2 remained unchanged. Prolonged exposure to K5 ultimately led to apoptosis via mitochondrial membrane depolarization and caspase activation in endothelial cells. Knocking down Beclin 1 levels by RNA interference decreased K5 induced autophagy but accelerated K5-induced apoptosis. These studies suggest that interfering with the autophagic survival response can potentiate the antiangiogenic effects of Kringle 5 in endothelial cells.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology