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Title: Expression and functional studies of roundabout 4
Author: Andre, Maud
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2006
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Roundabout (Robo) receptors were first identified in neurons as guidance molecules, however growing evidence suggests that they also play a role in other cells. The aim of this thesis was to characterise the expression and function of a novel endothelial specific member of this family, Robo4. This study revealed that Robo4 is expressed primarily in vessels but also differentially expressed in tumour vessels. Interestingly Robo4 was primarily located within cytoplasmic vesicles coated with clathrin, suggesting that the presence of Robo4 on the cell surface is being tightly regulated. Overexpression of Robo4 induced filopodia and pseudopodia formation and actin re-organisation into stress fibres. It co-localised with actin and tubulin suggesting an important interaction between Robo4 and the cytoskeleton. Robo4's function in endothelial cells was directly investigated using two approaches, overexpression using adenovirus and knockdown using small interfering RNA. Functional cell-based assays revealed that disrupting Robo4's level of expression negatively affects endothelial cell functions that are required during angiogenesis, such as proliferation, migration and tubulogenesis. Overexpression of a truncated version of Robo4, which lacks the C-terminus, provided clues regarding Robo4's function. The intracellular domain is critical for Robo4's localisation and its association with the cytoskeleton. It is also required for pseudopodia formation. Other findings include possible cleavage of Robo4 and Robo4 homodimerisation and heterodimerisation with Robo1. Taken together, the findings presented in this study strongly suggest a role for Robo4 in endothelial cell guidance. Cell guidance during angiogenesis is poorly understood therefore the identification of a new molecule potentially involved in this mechanism will hopefully help elucidate the process.
Supervisor: Bicknell, R. John Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Cell receptors ; Blood-vessels ; Tumors