Most secreted angiogenic signaling molecules, including VEGF and fibroblast growth factor-2, are mainly expressed by non-endothelial cell types such as fibroblasts.
In contrast, EGFL7 is unique because it is almost exclusively expressed by and acts on endothelial cells. Egfl7 expression is highest when the endothelium is in an active, proliferating state.
This factor acts as a chemoattractant for endothelial cells and binds to components of the extracellular matrix.
In vivo, Egfl7 is important for regulating tubulogenesis in zebrafish and for controlling vascular patterning and integrity in mice.
Its function in blood vessel development is mediated, at least in part, through modulation of Notch signaling.
In this review, we summarize the findings that support a role for Egfl7 in developmental and postnatal angiogenesis and describe the EGFL7-signaling pathways that underlie these processes.
In addition, we discuss a potential role for EGFL7 in vascular repair and its possible use as a therapeutic target for treatment of hypoxia-induced injury. Finally, we consider EGFL7 action during tumorigenesis and its potential as an antiangiogenic agent.