The vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 1 (VEGFR-1) family of receptors is preferentially expressed in endothelial cells, with the full-length and mostly the soluble (sVEGFR-1) isoforms being the most expressed ones. Surprisingly, cancer cells (MDA-MB-231) express, instead, alternative intracellular VEGFR-1 variants. We wondered if these variants, that are no longer dependent on ligands for activation, were expressed in a physiological context, specifically in spermatogenic cells, and whether their expression was maintained in spermatozoa and required for human fertility. By interrogating a human library of mature testis cDNA, we characterized two new truncated intracellular variants different from the ones previously described in cancer cells. The new isoforms were transcribed from alternative transcription start sites (aTSS) located respectively in intron-19 (i19VEGFR-1) and intron-28 (i28VEGFR-1) of the VEGFR-1 gene (GenBank accession numbers JF509744 and JF509745) and expressed in mature testis and spermatozoa. In this paper, we describe the characterization of these isoforms by RT-PCR, northern blot, and western blot, their preferential expression in human mature testis and spermatozoa, and the elements that punctuate their proximal promoters and suggest cues for their expression in spermatogenic cells. Mechanistically, we show that i19VEGFR-1 has a strong ability to phosphorylate and activate SRC proto-oncogene non-receptor tyrosine kinases and a significant bias toward a decrease in expression in patients considered infertile by WHO criteria.
|Number of pages||17|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Oct 2019|