Spatiotemporal Regulation of Tumor Angiogenesis by Circulating Chromogranin A Cleavage and Neuropilin-1 Engagement

Alice Dallatomasina, Anna Maria Gasparri, Barbara Colombo, Angelina Sacchi, Mimma Bianco, Tiziana Daniele, Antonio Esposito, Fabio Pastorino, Mirco Ponzoni, Fabrizio Marcucci, Flavio Curnis, Angelo Corti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The unbalanced production of pro- and antiangiogenic factors in tumors can lead to aberrant vasculature morphology, angiogenesis, and disease progression. In this study, we report that disease progression in various murine models of solid tumors is associated with increased cleavage of full-length chromogranin A (CgA), a circulating vasoregulatory neurosecretory protein. Cleavage of CgA led to the exposure of the highly conserved PGPQLR site, which corresponds to residues 368-373 of human CgA1-373, a fragment that has proangiogenic activity. Antibodies against this site, unable to bind full-length CgA, inhibited angiogenesis and reduced tumor perfusion and growth. The PGPQLR sequence of the fragment, but not of the precursor, bound the VEGF-binding site of neuropilin-1; the C-terminal arginine (R373) of the sequence was crucial for binding. The proangiogenic activity of the CgA1-373 was blocked by anti-neuropilin-1 antibodies as well as by nicotinic acetylcholine receptor antagonists, suggesting that these receptors, in addition to neuropilin-1, play a role in the proangiogenic activity of CgA1-373. The R373 residue was enzymatically removed in plasma, causing loss of neuropilin-1 binding and gain of antiangiogenic activity. These results suggest that cleavage of the R373R374 site of circulating human CgA in tumors and the subsequent removal of R373 in the blood represent an important "on/off" switch for the spatiotemporal regulation of tumor angiogenesis and may serve as a novel therapeutic target. SIGNIFICANCE: This work reveals that the interaction between fragmented chromogranin A and neuropilin-1 is required for tumor growth and represents a novel potential therapeutic target.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1925-1937
Number of pages13
JournalCancer Research
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Apr 15 2019


  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Breast Neoplasms/genetics
  • Carcinoma, Lewis Lung/genetics
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Chromogranin A/metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Melanoma/genetics
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic/metabolism
  • Neuropilin-1/metabolism
  • Spatio-Temporal Analysis
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


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