Date of Graduation


Document Type

Dissertation (PhD)

Program Affiliation

Biomedical Sciences

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Eugenie S. kleinerman

Committee Member

Alexander Lazar

Committee Member

Gary Gallick

Committee Member

King Ma

Committee Member

Aarif Khakoo

Committee Member

Alan Schroit


We previously demonstrated that bone marrow cells (BMCs) migrate to TC71 and A4573 Ewing’s sarcoma tumors where they can differentiate into endothelial cells (ECs) and pericytes and, participate in the tumor vascular development. This process of neo-vascularization, known as vasculogenesis, is essential for Ewing’s sarcoma growth with the soluble vascular endothelial growth factor, VEGF165, being the chemotactic factor for BMC migration to the tumor site. Inhibiting VEGF165 in TC71 tumors (TC/siVEGF7-1) inhibited BMC infiltration to the tumor site and tumor growth. Introducing the stromal-derived growth factor (SDF-1α) into the TC/siVEGF7-1 tumors partially restored vasculogenesis with infiltration of BMCs to a perivascular area where they differentiated into pericytes and rescued tumor growth. RNA collected from the SDF-1α-treated TC/siVEGF7-1 tumors also revealed an increase in platelet-derived growth factor B (PDGF-B) mRNA levels. PDGF-B expression is elevated in several cancer types and the role of PDGF-B and its receptor, PDGFR-β, has been extensively described in the process of pericyte maturation. However, the mechanisms by which PDGF-B expression is up-regulated during vascular remodeling and the process by which BMCs differentiate into pericytes during tumor vasculogenesis remain areas of investigation. In this study, we are the first to demonstrate that SDF-1α regulates the expression of PDGF-B via a transcriptional mechanism which involves binding of the ELK-1 transcription factor to the pdgf-b promoter. We are also first to validate the critical role of the SDF-1α/PDGF-B pathway in the differentiation of BMCs into pericytes both in vitro and in vivo. SDF-1α up-regulated PDGF-B expression in both TC/siVEGF7-1 and HEK293 cells. In contrast, down-regulating SDF-1α, down-regulated PDGF-B. We cloned the 2 kb pdgf-b promoter fragment into the pGL3 reporter vector and showed that SDF-1α induced pdgf-b promoter activity. We used chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) and demonstrated that the ELK-1 transcription factor bound to the pdgf-b promoter in response to SDF-1α stimulation in both TC/siVEGF7-1 and HEK293 cells. We collected BMCs from the hind femurs of mice and cultured the cells in medium containing SDF-1α and PDGF-B and found that PDGFR-β+ BMCs differentiated into NG2 and desmin positive pericytes in vitro. In contrast, inhibiting SDF-1α and PDGF-B abolished this differentiation process. In vivo, we injected TC71 or A4573 tumor-bearing mice with the SDF-1α antagonist, AMD3100 and found that inhibiting SDF-1α signaling in the tumor microenvironment decreased the tumor microvessel density, decreased the tumor blood vessel perfusion and, increased tumor cell apoptosis. We then analyzed the effect of AMD3100 on vasculogenesis of Ewing’s sarcoma and found that BMCs migrated to the tumor site where they differentiated into ECs but, they did not form thick perivascular layers of NG2 and desmin positive pericytes. Finally, we stained the AMD3100-treated tumors for PDGF-B and showed that inhibiting SDF-1α signaling also inhibited PDGF-B expression. All together, these findings demonstrated that the SDF-1α/PDGF-B pathway plays a critical role in the formation of BM-derived pericytes during vasculogenesis of Ewing’s sarcoma tumors.


Ewing's sarcoma, vasculogenesis, stromal derived growth factor, platelet derived growth factor, pericytes, bone marrow cells, ELK-1