Effects of angiopoietins-1 and -2 on the receptor tyrosine kinase Tie2 are differentially regulated at the endothelial cell surface.
Angiopoietin-1 (Ang1) and Ang2 are ligands for the receptor tyrosine kinase Tie2. Structural data suggest that the two ligands bind Tie2 similarly. However, in endothelial cells Ang1 activates Tie2 whereas Ang2 can act as an apparent antagonist. In addition, each ligand exhibits distinct kinetics of release following binding. These observations suggest that additional factors influence function and binding of angiopoietins with receptors in the cellular context. Previous work has shown that Ang1 binding and activation of Tie2 are inhibited by Tie1, a related receptor that complexes with Tie2 in cells. In this study we have investigated binding of Ang1 and Ang2 to Tie2 in endothelial cells. In contrast to Ang1, binding of Ang2 to Tie2 was found to be not affected by Tie1. Neither PMA-induced Tie1 ectodomain cleavage nor suppression of Tie1 expression by siRNA affected the ability of Ang2 to bind Tie2. Analysis of the level of Tie1 co-immunoprecipitating with angiopoietin-bound Tie2 demonstrated that Ang2 can bind Tie2 in Tie2:Tie1 complexes whereas Ang1 preferentially binds non-complexed Tie2. Stimulation of Tie1 ectodomain cleavage did not increase the agonist activity of Ang2 for Tie2. Similarly, the Tie2-agonist activity of Ang2 was not affected by siRNA suppression of Tie1 expression. Consistent with previous reports, loss of Tie1 ectodomain enhanced the agonist activity of Ang1 for Tie2. Importantly, Ang2 was still able to antagonize the elevated Ang1-activation of Tie2 that occurs on Tie1 ectodomain loss. Together these data demonstrate that Ang1 and Ang2 bind differently to Tie2 at the cell surface and this is controlled by Tie1. This differential regulation of angiopoietin binding allows control of Tie2 activation response to Ang1 without affecting Ang2 agonist activity and maintains the ability of Ang2 to antagonize even the enhanced Ang1 activation of Tie2 that occurs on loss of Tie1 ectodomain. This provides a mechanism by which signalling through Tie2 can be modified by stimuli in the cellular microenvironment.