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Marie Ouarné

ALK1: A new pathway in physiological and tumoral vascular development

Published on 16 November 2017

Thesis presented on November 16, 2017

ALK1 (Actlivin receptor-Like Kinase 1) is a receptor specifically expressed at the surface of endothelial cells. BMP9 (Bone Morphogenic Protein) and BMP10 are the high affinity ligands of ALK1. This pathway has been proved to play important roles in angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis which are critical processes in development as well as in cancer. Thus, the purpose of my PhD was to characterize BMP9 and BMP10 functions in physiological and tumoral vascular development using mice invalidated for those proteins.
We show that BMP9 and BMP10 are essentials to ductus arteriosus closure, a shunt allowing blood to avoid inoperative foetal lungs. Its closure is mandatory to survival after birth. Loss of BMP9 and BMP10 leads to ductus arteriosus reopening in mice pups due to remodeling issues. In human, a critical region including Bmp10 was correlated to patent ductus arteriosus.
Clinical trials targeting ALK1 in cancer treatment are in progress due to its involvment in angiogenesis. However, little is known about the specific roles of BMP9, BMP10 and ALK1 in carcinogenesis. We show that BMP10 is not involved in mammary cancer development while BMP9 acts as a quiescent and maturation factor in tumoral angiogenesis. Thus, it may be more interesting to target only BMP9 instead of ALK1 to avoid interferences with BMP10 physiological functions.

Angiogenesis, lymphangiogenesis, cancer