The capacity of ADAMTS3 to cleave pro-VEGFC into active VEGFC able to bind its receptors and to stimulate lymphangiogenesis has been clearly established during embryonic life. However, this function of ADAMTS3 is unlikely to persist in adulthood because of its restricted expression pattern after birth. Because ADAMTS2 and ADAMTS14 are closely related to ADAMTS3 and are mainly expressed in connective tissues where the lymphatic network extends, we hypothesized that they could substitute for ADAMTS3 during adulthood in mammals allowing proteolytic activation of pro-VEGFC. Here, we demonstrated that ADAMTS2 and ADAMTS14 are able to process pro-VEGFC into active VEGFC as efficiently as ADAMTS3. In vivo, adult mice lacking Adamts2 developed skin lymphedema due to a reduction of the density and diameter of lymphatic vessels, leading to a decrease of lymphatic functionality, while genetic ablation of Adamts14 had no impact. In a model of thermal cauterization of cornea, lymphangiogenesis was significantly reduced in Adamts2- and Adamts14-KO mice and further repressed in Adamts2/Adamts14 double-KO mice. In summary, we have demonstrated that ADAMTS2 and ADAMTS14 are as efficient as ADAMTS3 in activation of pro-VEGFC and are involved in the homeostasis of the lymphatic vasculature in adulthood, both in physiological and pathological processes.
Laura Dupont, Loïc Joannes, Florent Morfoisse, Silvia Blacher, Christine Monseur, Christophe F. Deroanne, Agnès Noël, Alain C.M.A. Colige