Many proliferative functions are reliant on the development of an adequate vascular network. The vascular endothelial cells that form the basis of the vasculature are stimulated to grow in a non-tissue specific manner by well-characterized endothelial mitogens. In August 30 Nature Jennifer LeCouter and colleagues from Genentech Inc., San Francisco, California describe a new molecule that encourages blood vessel formation and is specific for endocrine gland endothelium.

LeCouter et al. screened a library of purified human secreted proteins for the ability to induce proliferation in primary bovine adrenal-cortex-derived capillary endothelial cells. They found that one factor (subsequently named endocrine-gland-derived vascular endothelial growth factor - EG–VEGF) induced proliferation, migration and fenestration (the production of specialized plasma membrane discontinuities) in capillary endothelial cells from the adrenal gland, but had little or no effect on a variety of other endothelial and non-endothelial cell from other organs (Nature 2001, 412:877-884)....

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