Author(s): Goumans MJ
The generation of mice lacking specific components of the transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) signal tranduction pathway shows that TGF-beta is a key player in the development and physiology of the cardiovascular system. Both pro- and anti-angiogenic properties have been ascribed to TGF-beta, for which the molecular mechanisms are unclear. Here we report that TGF-beta can activate two distinct type I receptor/Smad signalling pathways with opposite effects. TGF-beta induces phosphorylation of Smad1/5 and Smad2 in endothelial cells and these effects can be blocked upon selective inhibition of ALK1 or ALK5 expression, respectively. Whereas the TGF-beta/ALK5 pathway leads to inhibition of cell migration and proliferation, the TGF-beta/ALK1 pathway induces endothelial cell migration and proliferation. We identified genes that are induced specifically by TGF-beta-mediated ALK1 or ALK5 activation. Id1 was found to mediate the TGF-beta/ALK1-induced (and Smad-dependent) migration, while induction of plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 by activated ALK5 may contribute to the TGF-beta-induced maturation of blood vessels. Our results suggest that TGF-beta regulates the activation state of the endothelium via a fine balance between ALK5 and ALK1 signalling.