Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) has been shown to induce angiogenesis in vivo and has potential as a candidate gene for therapeutic angiogenesis. In vivo, two isoforms of HGF, HGF 723 and HGF 728, consisting of 723 and 728 amino acids, are generated through alternative splicing between exons 4 and 5, but the biological effects of their coexpression have not yet been elucidated. In this study, we generated a series of genomic-complementary DNA (cDNA) hybrids of the HGF gene by inserting various truncated intron 4 into the junction of exons 4 and 5 of HGF cDNA and analyzed the biological activities of these hybrid constructs. We showed that: (1) the hybrid called HGF-X7, which contained 1502 base pairs of intron 4, could drive a higher level of HGF expression than other hybrid constructs and cDNAs of each isoform alone; (2) the pCK vector was most efficient for the gene expression of HGF-X7; (3) coexpression of both isoforms of HGF could more efficiently induce the migration of human umbilical vein endothelial cell (HUVEC) and of the mouse myoblast cell line C 2C 12 myoblasts than a single isoform of HGF and human vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) 165 at a given concentration; (4) intramuscular administration of pCK-HGF-X7 resulted in transient and localized HGF expression in the injected muscle without an increase in the HGF protein levels in other tissues including serum; and (5) intramuscular injection of pCK-HGF-X7 could more efficiently increase the number of angiographically recognizable collateral vessels, as well as improve an intra-arterial Doppler wire-measured blood flow in the rabbit model of hindlimb ischemia when compared with the identical vector encoding VEGF 165 gene. These results showed that transfer of the genomic-cDNA hybrid of the HGF gene could be used as a potential therapeutic approach to human vascular diseases.
- hepatocyte growth factor (HGF)
- ischemic limb disease