Deficiency for endoglin in tumor vasculature weakens the endothelial barrier to metastatic dissemination

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Therapy-induced resistance remains a significant hurdle to achieve long-lasting responses and cures in cancer patients. We investigated the long-term consequences of genetically impaired angiogenesis by engineering multiple tumor models deprived of endoglin, a co-receptor for TGF-beta in endothelial cells actively engaged in angiogenesis. Tumors from endoglin-deficient mice adapted to the weakened angiogenic response, and refractoriness to diminished endoglin signaling was accompanied by increased metastatic capability. Mechanistic studies in multiple mouse models of cancer revealed that deficiency for endoglin resulted in a tumor vasculature that displayed hallmarks of endothelial-to-mesenchymal transition, a process of previously unknown significance in cancer biology, but shown by us to be associated with a reduced capacity of the vasculature to avert tumor cell intra- and extravasation. Nevertheless, tumors deprived of endoglin exhibited a delayed onset of resistance to anti-VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) agents, illustrating the therapeutic utility of combinatorial targeting of multiple angiogenic pathways for the treatment of cancer.


  • Charlotte Anderberg
  • Sara I. Cunha
  • Zhenhua Zhai
  • Eliane Cortez
  • Evangelia Pardali
  • Jill R. Johnson
  • Marcela Franco
  • Marta Paez-Ribes
  • Ross Cordiner
  • Jonas Fuxe
  • Bengt R. Johansson
  • Marie-Jose Goumans
  • Oriol Casanovas
  • Peter ten Dijke
  • Helen M. Arthur
  • Kristian Pietras
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Cancer and Oncology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)563-579
JournalJournal of Experimental Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015. The record was previously connected to the following departments: Experimental oncology (013031110)

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