Differentiation-inducing factor-1 (DIF-1) is a putative morphogen that induces cell differentiation in Dictyostelium discoideum. DIF-1 inhibits proliferation of various mammalian tumor cells by suppressing the canonical Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway. To assess the potential of a novel cancer chemotherapy based on the pharmacological effect of DIF-1, we investigated whether DIF-1 exhibits anti-angiogenic effects in vitro and in vivo. DIF-1 not only inhibited the proliferation of human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) by restricting cell cycle in the G0/G1 phase and degrading cyclin D1, but also inhibited the ability of HUVECs to form capillaries and migrate. Moreover, DIF-1 suppressed VEGF- and cancer cell-induced neovascularization in Matrigel plugs injected subcutaneously to murine flank. Subsequently, we attempted to identify the mechanism behind the anti-angiogenic effects of DIF-1. We showed that DIF-1 strongly decreased vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-2 (VEGFR-2) expression in HUVECs by inhibiting the promoter activity of human VEGFR-2 gene, though it was not caused by inhibition of the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway. These results suggested that DIF-1 inhibits angiogenesis both in vitro and in vivo, and reduction of VEGFR-2 expression is involved in the mechanism. A novel anti-cancer drug that inhibits neovascularization and tumor growth may be developed by successful elucidation of the target molecules for DIF-1 in the future.
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