Interactions between integrins and tyrosine kinase receptors can modulate a variety of cell functions. We observed a cooperative interaction between the beta(1) integrin and vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-3 (VEGFR-3 or Flt4) that appeared to be required for cell migration. By using VEGFR-3-transfected 293 cells (293/VEGFR-3) or primary dermal microvascular endothelial cells (DMEC), we found that stimulation with either soluble or immobilized extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins, collagen or fibronectin (FN), resulted in the increased tyrosine phosphorylation of VEGFR-3 in the absence of a cognate ligand. This increased tyrosine phosphorylation of VEGFR-3 was diminished by pretreatment with a blocking antibody against the beta(1) integrin. Cross-linking with anti-beta(1) integrin antibody induced a similar degree of tyrosine phosphorylation of VEGFR-3. Stimulation with collagen or FN induced an association between beta(1) integrin and VEGFR-3 in both 293/VEGFR-3 and primary DMEC cells. Collagen or FN-induced tyrosine phosphorylation of VEGFR-3 was inhibited by treatment with cytochalasin D, an inhibitor of actin polymerization. Collagen or FN was able to induce the migration of 293/VEGFR-3 or DMEC cells to a limited extent. However, migration was dramatically enhanced when a gradient of the cognate ligand, VEGF-D, was added. VEGF-D failed to induce cell migration in the absence of ECM proteins. Introducing a mutation at the kinase domain of VEGFR-3 or treatment with blocking antibody against either VEGFR-3 or beta(1) integrin inhibited cell migration induced by ECM and VEGF-D, indicating that signals from both beta(1) integrin and VEGFR-3 are required for this cell function.
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