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Aminoacyl tRNA synthetases--enzymes that catalyze the first step of protein synthesis--in mammalian cells are now known to have expanded functions, including activities in signal transduction pathways, such as those for angiogenesis and inflammation. The native synthetases themselves are procytokines, having no signal transduction activities. After alternative splicing or natural proteolysis, specific fragments that are potent cytokines and that interact with specific receptors on cell surfaces are released. In this manner, a natural fragment of human tyrosyl tRNA synthetase (TyrRS), mini-TyrRS, has been shown to act as a proangiogenic cytokine. The mechanistic basis for the action of mini-TyrRS in angiogenesis has yet to be established. Here, we show that mini-TyrRS is exported from endothelial cells when they are treated with tumor necrosis factor-alpha. Mini-TyrRS binds to vascular endothelial cells and activates an array of angiogenic signal transduction pathways. Mini-TyrRS-induced angiogenesis requires the activation of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-2 (VEGFR2/Flk-1/KDR). Mini-TyrRS stimulates VEGFR2 phosphorylation in a VEGF-independent manner, suggesting VEGFR2 transactivation. Transactivation of VEGFR2 and downstream angiogenesis require an intact Glu-Leu-Arg (ELR) motif in mini-TyrRS, which is important for its cytokine activity. These studies therefore suggest a mechanism by which mini-TyrRS induces angiogenesis in endothelial cells and provide further insight into the role of mini-TyrRS as a link between translation and angiogenesis.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





1597 - 1605


Animals, Cell Movement, Cell Proliferation, Endothelium, Vascular, Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases, Humans, Microscopy, Fluorescence, Neovascularization, Physiologic, Peptide Fragments, Permeability, Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt, Signal Transduction, Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha, Tyrosine-tRNA Ligase, Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Receptor-2