Increased evidence suggests that cancer-associated infiammation supports tumor growth and progression. We have previously shown that semaphorin 4D (Sema4D), a ligand produced by different cell types, is a proangiogenic molecule that acts by binding to its receptor, plexin B1, expressed on endothelial cells (Conrotto, P., D. Valdembri, S. Corso, G. Serini, L. Tamagnone, P.M. Comoglio, F. Bussolino, and S. Giordano. 2005. Blood. 105:4321 - 4329). The present work highlights the role of Sema4D produced by the tumor microenvironment on neoplastic angiogenesis. We show that in an environment lacking Sema4D, the ability of cancer cells to generate tumor masses and metastases is severely impaired. This condition can be explained by a defective vascularization inside the tumor. We demonstrate that tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) are the main cells producing Sema4D within the tumor stroma and that their ability to produce Sema4D is critical for tumor angiogenesis and vessel maturation. This study helps to explain the protumoral role of infiammatory cells of the tumor stroma and leads to the identification of an angiogenic molecule that might be a novel therapeutic target.
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