We identified regulator of G-protein signaling-5 (RGS-5) as an angiogenic pericyte marker at sites of physiologic and pathologic angiogenesis. In a mouse model of pancreatic islet cell carcinogenesis, RGS-5 is specifically induced in the vasculature of premalignant lesions during the "angiogenic switch" and further elevated in tumor vessels. Similarly, RGS-5 is over-expressed in highly angiogenic astrocytomas but not in hypoxia-inducible factor-1alpha (HIF-1alpha)-deficient tumors, which grow along preexisting brain capillaries without inducing neovessels. Elevated levels of RGS-5 in pericytes are also observed during wound healing and ovulation indicating a strong correlation between RGS-5 expression and active vessel remodeling beyond tumor angiogenesis. Moreover, antitumor therapy, which reverses tumor vasculature to an almost normal morphology, results in down-regulation of RGS-5 transcription. Taken together, these data demonstrate for the first time a factor that is specific for "activated" pericytes. This further supports the notion that pericytes, like endothelial cells, undergo molecular changes during neovascularization that makes them a novel target for antiangiogenic therapy. (C) 2005 by The American Society of Hematology.