, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 31–39

Neuropilin structure governs VEGF and semaphorin binding and regulates angiogenesis

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10456-008-9097-1

Cite this article as:
Geretti, E., Shimizu, A. & Klagsbrun, M. Angiogenesis (2008) 11: 31. doi:10.1007/s10456-008-9097-1


Neuropilins (NRP) play a central role in neuronal and blood vessel development as receptors for two ligand types, the semaphorin (SEMA) family of axon guidance modulators and the VEGF family of angiogenesis stimulators. The role of NRPs in axon guidance is well documented but a role in blood vessel development is less so. NRPs mediate normal developmental angiogenesis as shown in mouse and zebrafish models, and pathological angiogenesis in tumors and retinal disease. The ability of two disparate ligand families to bind to the same receptor is unusual but may be explainable by analysis of neuropilin structure. There are two NRP genes, nrp1 and nrp2. The NRPs have a relatively large extracellular domain consisting of sub domains, which are ligand binding sites. VEGF165 binds to the b1b2 subdomain, SEMA3A and SEMA3F also bind to b1b2 but to a1a2 as well. Mutagenesis studies have identified NRP amino acids that bind VEGF165 but not SEMA3F. These NRP structural elements might dictate differential SEMA and VEGF165 binding properties, which in turn regulate angiogenesis. This article reviews the latest information of NRP structure and how structure influences angiogenesis. In addition, the role of NRPs in human cancer is addressed.


NeuropilinVEGFSemaphorinAngiogenesisAxon guidanceCancerStructure







Vascular endothelial growth factor


VEGF receptor


Endothelial cell


Intersegmental vessels

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elena Geretti
    • 1
  • Akio Shimizu
    • 1
  • Michael Klagsbrun
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Surgery, Vascular Biology ProgramChildren’s Hospital and Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Pathology, Vascular Biology ProgramChildren’s Hospital and Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA