Gene expression analysis in human breast cancer associated blood vessels.
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Angiogenesis is essential for solid tumour growth, whilst the molecular profiles of tumour blood vessels have been reported to be different between cancer types. Although presently available anti-angiogenic strategies are providing some promise for the treatment of some cancers it is perhaps not surprisingly that, none of the anti-angiogenic agents available work on all tumours. Thus, the discovery of novel anti-angiogenic targets, relevant to individual cancer types, is required. Using Affymetrix microarray analysis of laser-captured, CD31-positive blood vessels we have identified 63 genes that are upregulated significantly (5-72 fold) in angiogenic blood vessels associated with human invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC) of the breast as compared with blood vessels in normal human breast. We tested the angiogenic capacity of a subset of these genes. Genes were selected based on either their known cellular functions, their enriched expression in endothelial cells and/or their sensitivity to anti-VEGF treatment; all features implicating their involvement in angiogenesis. For example, RRM2, a ribonucleotide reductase involved in DNA synthesis, was upregulated 32-fold in IDC-associated blood vessels; ATF1, a nuclear activating transcription factor involved in cellular growth and survival was upregulated 23-fold in IDC-associated blood vessels and HEX-B, a hexosaminidase involved in the breakdown of GM2 gangliosides, was upregulated 8-fold in IDC-associated blood vessels. Furthermore, in silico analysis confirmed that AFT1 and HEX-B also were enriched in endothelial cells when compared with non-endothelial cells. None of these genes have been reported previously to be involved in neovascularisation. However, our data establish that siRNA depletion of Rrm2, Atf1 or Hex-B had significant anti-angiogenic effects in VEGF-stimulated ex vivo mouse aortic ring assays. Overall, our results provide proof-of-principle that our approach can identify a cohort of potentially novel anti-angiogenic targets that are likley to be, but not exclusivley, relevant to breast cancer.