, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 1-11

CCN family proteins and angiogenesis: from embryo to adulthood

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Abstract

The CCN family is a novel class of extracellular signal modulators that has been recently established. Typical members are composed of four conserved modules connected tandem, each of which is rich in cysteines and highly interactive with other molecules. The mammalian CCN family consists of six members, most of which have been described as multifunctional factors for the developmental process of mesenchymal tissue including blood vessel formation/induction. Particularly, the angiogenic properties of the three classical members, CCN1, 2 and 3 have so far been characterized, and their physiological and pathological significance has thus been indicated. Recent research has uncovered a unique mechanism regarding these proteins in promoting and/or modulating developmental, physiological and pathological angiogenic events. Namely, CCN proteins exert their ability to drive angiogenesis, not by stimulating a particular behavior of a particular type of cells, but by manipulating the cell communication networks that integrate most of the associated molecules/cells toward angiogenesis. In this article, the role of the CCN proteins in a variety of angiogenic events as an organizer of microenvironmental cell society is comprehensively described, together with a brief summary of the recent findings on each CCN family member relevant to angiogenesis including cardiovascular development and diseases.