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Title: The biology of ELTD1/ADGRL4 : a novel regulator of tumour angiogenesis
Author: Favara, David M.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7234 2069
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2017
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Background: Our laboratory identified ELTD1, an orphan GPCR belonging to the adhesion GPCR family (aGPCR), as a novel regulator of angiogenesis and a potential anti-cancer therapeutic target. ELTD1 is normally expressed in both endothelial cells and vascular smooth muscle cells and expression is significantly increased in the tumour vasculature. The aim of this project was to analyse ELTD1's function in endothelial cells and its role in breast cancer. Method: 62 sequenced vertebrate genomes were interrogated for ELTD1 conservation and domain alterations. A phylogenetic timetree was assembled to establish time estimates for ELTD1's evolution. After ELTD1 silencing, mRNA array profiling was performed on primary human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) and validated with qPCR and confocal microscopy. ELTD1's signalling was investigated by applying the aGPCR ‘Stinger/tethered-agonist Hypothesis'. For this, truncated forms of ELTD1 and peptides analogous to the proposed tethered agonist region were designed. FRET-based 2nd messenger (Cisbio IP-1;cAMP) and luciferase-reporter assays (NFAT; NFÎoB; SRE; SRF-RE; CREB) were performed to establish canonical GPCR activation. To further investigate ELTD1's role in endothelial cells, ELTD1 was stably overexpressed in HUVECS. Functional angiogenesis assays and mRNA array profiling were then performed. To investigate ELTD1 in breast cancer, a panel of cell lines representative of all molecular subtypes were screened using qPCR. Furthermore, an exploratory pilot study was performed on matched primary and regional nodal secondary breast cancers (n=43) which were stained for ELTD1 expression. Staining intensity was then scored and compared with relapse free survival and overall survival. Results: ELTD1 arose 435 million years ago (mya) in bony fish and is present in all subsequent vertebrates. ELTD1 has 3 evolutionary variants of which 2 are most common: one variant with 3 EGFs and a variant with 2 EGFs. Additionally, ELTD1 may be ancestral to members of aGPCR family 2. HUVEC mRNA expression profiling after ELTD1 silencing showed upregulation of the mitochondrial citrate transporter SLC25A1, and ACLY which converts cytoplasmic citrate to Acetyl CoA, feeding fatty acid and cholesterol synthesis, and acetylation. A review of lipid droplet (fatty acid and cholesterol) accumulation by confocal microscopy and flow cytometry (FACS) revealed no changes with ELTD1 silencing. Silencing was also shown to affect the Notch pathway (downregulating the Notch ligand JAG1 and target gene HES2; upregulating the Notch ligand DLL4) and inducing KIT, a mediator of haematopoietic (HSC) and endothelial stem cell (ESC) maintenance. Signalling experiments revealed that unlike other aGPCRs, ELTD1 does not couple to any canonical GPCR pathways (Gαi, Gαs, Gαq, Gα12/13). ELTD1 overexpression in HUVECS revealed that ELTD1 induces an endothelial tip cell phenotype by promoting sprouting and capillary formation, inhibiting lumen anastomoses in mature vessels and lowering proliferation rate. There was no effect on wound healing or adhesion to angiogenesis associated matrix components. Gene expression changes following ELTD1 overexpression included upregulation of angiogenesis associated ANTRX1 as well as JAG1 and downregulation of migration associated CCL15 as well as KIT and DLL4. In breast cancer, none of the representative breast cancer cell lines screened expressed ELTD1. ELTD1 breast cancer immunohistochemistry revealed higher levels of vascular ELTD1 staining intensity within the tumour stroma contrasted to normal stroma and expression within tumour epithelial cells. Additionally, ELTD1 expression in tumour vessels was differentially expressed between the primary breast cancer microenvironment and that of the matched regional node. Due to the small size of the pilot study population, survival comparisons between the various subgroups did not yield significant results. Conclusion: ELTD1 is a novel regulator of endothelial metabolism through its suppression of ACLY and the related citrate transporter SLC25A1. ELTD1 also represses KIT, which is known to mediate haematopoietic and endothelial progenitors stem cell maintenance, a possible mechanism through which endothelial cells maintain terminal endothelial differentiation. ELTD1 does not signal like other adhesion GPCRS with CTF and FL forms of ELTD1 not signalling canonically. Additionally, ELTD1 regulates various functions of endothelial cell behaviour and function, inducing an endothelial tip cell phenotype and is highly evolutionarily conserved. Lastly, ELTD1 is differentially expressed in tumour vessels between primary breast cancer and regional nodal metastases and is also expressed in a small subset of breast cancer cells in vivo despite no cancer cell lines expressing ELTD1. The pilot study investigating ELTD1 in the primary breast cancer and regional involved nodes will be followed up with a larger study including the investigation of ELTD1 in distant metastases.
Supervisor: Banham, Alison H. ; Seiradake, Elena ; Langenhan, Tobias ; Harris, Adrian L. Sponsor: Oppenheimer Memorial Trust Scholarship
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Cancer biology ; Cytology ; Molecular biology--Research ; Breast--Cancer ; Computational evolutionary biology ; Neovascularization ; Cell signalling ; Adhesion GPCR receptors ; Endothelial biology ; EGF, Latrophilin And Seven Transmembrane Domain Containing 1 ; Transcriptomics ; Angiogenesis ; Adhesion GPCR signalling ; Adhesion G Protein-Coupled Receptor L4 ; Adhesion GPCR evolution ; ELTD1 ; Breast cancer ; Adhesion GPCR receptor ; ADGRL4 ; Endothelial cells