Role of fibrillin-2 in the control of TGF-β activation in tumor angiogenesis and connective tissue disorders

Karlijn van Loon, Julia Yemelyanenko-Lyalenko, Coert Margadant, Arjan W. Griffioen, Elisabeth J.M. Huijbers

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18 Citations (Scopus)


Fibrillins constitute a family of large extracellular glycoproteins which multimerize to form microfibrils, an important structure in the extracellular matrix. It has long been assumed that fibrillin-2 was barely present during postnatal life, but it is now clear that fibrillin-2 molecules form the structural core of microfibrils, and are masked by an outer layer of fibrillin-1. Mutations in fibrillins give rise to heritable connective tissue disorders, including Marfan syndrome and congenital contractural arachnodactyly. Fibrillins also play an important role in matrix sequestering of members of the transforming growth factor-β family, and in context of Marfan syndrome excessive TGF-β activation has been observed. TGF-β activation is highly dependent on integrin binding, including integrin αvβ8 and αvβ6, which are upregulated upon TGF-β exposure. TGF-β is also involved in tumor progression, metastasis, epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition and tumor angiogenesis. In several highly vascularized types of cancer such as hepatocellular carcinoma, a positive correlation was found between increased TGF-β plasma concentrations and tumor vascularity. Interestingly, fibrillin-1 has a higher affinity to TGF-β and, therefore, has a higher capacity to sequester TGF-β compared to fibrillin-2. The previously reported downregulation of fibrillin-1 in tumor endothelium affects the fibrillin-1/fibrillin-2 ratio in the microfibrils, exposing the normally hidden fibrillin-2. We postulate that fibrillin-2 exposure in the tumor endothelium directly stimulates tumor angiogenesis by influencing TGF-β sequestering by microfibrils, leading to a locally higher active TGF-β concentration in the tumor microenvironment. From a therapeutic perspective, fibrillin-2 might serve as a potential target for future anti-cancer therapies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number188354
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Reviews on Cancer
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


  • Angiogenesis
  • CCA
  • Fibrillin-2
  • Fibrillins
  • HHT
  • Marfan syndrome
  • TGF-β
  • Tumor angiogenesis
  • Tumor vasculature

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