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Growth Factor Antagonist For Organ Transplant Alloimmunity And Arteriosclerosis

GROWTH FACTOR ANTAGONISTS FOR ORGAN TRANSPLANT ALLOIMMUNITY AND ARTERIOSCLEROSIS

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001 ] The present application claims the benefit of priority of U. S Prousional Application No 60/888,067, filed February 2, 2007, and U S Prov isional Application No 60/888,305, filed February 5, 2007. The disclosure of each priority application in incorporated herein by reference in its entirety

BACKGROUND

[0002] Interaction of innate and adaptive immunity leads to alloimmune responses that may be detrimental to cardiac allografts and heart transplant recipients Antigen-presenting cells (APC) initiate allorecognition by processing foreign peptides, migrating to secondary lymphoid tissue, and presenting these peptides to recipient lymphocytes. After recognition, alloreactive T lymphocytes proliferate and migrate to their target tissue Although the current immunosuppressive regiments effectively inhibit the proliferation of alloreactive T lymphocytes, they have several metabolic, infectious, renal and malignant side-effects. In addition, the long-term survival of heart transplant patients is decreased by gradual concentric intimal thickening of large and small allograft coronary arteries - cardiac allograft arteriosclerosis - despite the use of modern immunosuppression.

[0003] The lymphatic network forms a conduct system that transfers interstitial fluids and inflammatory cells from the target tissue to secondary LN, and is essential in the actu ation of adaptive immunity. Vascular endothelial growth factor C (VEGF-C) and its receptor VEGFR-3 are the key regulators for lymphatic growth. VEGF-C is essential in the development and maintenance of the lymphatic system, and improper lymphangiogenesis is related to many pathological conditions. Lymphatic vascular insufficiency leads to lymphedema, whereas extensive lymphangiogenesis is often seen in tumor metastasis and inflammatory situations. Duπng inflammation, macrophages are a πch source for VEGF-C, and pro-inflammatory cytokines such as TNF-α, IL- lα and -β(15) as well as TGF-β (16) induce VEGF-C expression. Dendπtic cells (DC) may express VEGFR-3 duπng inflammation (Hamrah et al , (2003) , Am J Pathol., 163: 57-6817) which renders them responsive for VEGF-C-induced migration (Chen et al , (2004), Nat. Med., 10: 813-81518) Also, lymphatic endothelial cells (EC) - in contrast to vascular EC - secrete CCL21 chemokine that mediates CCR7+ inflammatory cell traffic to lymphoid organs and peπpheral effector sites (See Knehuber et al , (2001 ), J Exp Med , 194 797- 808, Saeki et al , ( 1999), J Immunol 162 2472-2475, Campbell et al , ( 1998), J Cell Biol 141 1053- 1059, and Lo et al , (2003), J Clin Invest 1 12 1495-1505

[0004] Corneal transplant is currently the most successful tissue transplantation procedures in humans, with a first year sur\i\ al rate as high as 90%, even in the absence of routine HLA tying and w ith minimal immunosuppressive therapy The healthy cornea is generally a non-vascular tissue DeVπes, U S Patent Publication No 2003/0180294 purports to descπbe use of a VEGFR-3 inhibitor to reduce lymphangiogenesis in a transplanted cornea to extend its survi\ al Chen et al , (2004), Nat Med , 10 813-81518, purport to descπbe that blockade of VEGFR-3 in corneal transplants suppresses corneal antigen presenting dendπtic cells, delaying rejection of corneal transplants The same research group pre\ iously reported that dendπtic cells in the cornea were VEGFR-3+, whereas similar dendπtic cells were absent in the skin, even though the cornea shares embryological oπgins with the skin

[0005] A need exists for all transplanted tissues and organs, especially vasculaπzed tissues and organs, for new mateπals and methods for slowing, reducing, or eliminating rejection and also for slowing, reducing, or eliminating graft arteπosclerosis

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION [0006] The present invention provides mateπals and methods to improve the outcomes of transplant recipients, e g , by postponing or inhibiting or reducing or ameliorating an immune reaction against the transplant (rejection), and/or by postponing or inhibiting or reducing or ameliorating artenosclerosis or other deleteπous side effects often associated with transplants

[0007] Thus, in one embodiment, the invention is a method for inducing tolerance or inhibiting rejection of a cell, tissue, or organ transplant, or for inhibiting arteπosclerosis in a transplant recipient

[0008] In a related embodiment, the invention also provides a composition that compnses a growth factor inhibitor, such as an endothelial growth factor inhibitor, for use in a method for inducing tolerance or inhibiting rejection of a cell, tissue, or organ transplant, or for inhibiting arteriosclerosis in a transplant recipient

[0009] For example, one such method compπses administering to a mammalian transplant recipient a composition that compπses a growth factor inhibitor, such as an endothelial growth factor inhibitor, in an amount effective to induce tolerance for the transplant by the recipient, or inhibit rejection, or inhibit arteriosclerosis "Transplant recipient" refers to the mammalian subject or patient that receives the transplanted cells, tissue, or organ, from a donor Preferred mammalian donors and recipients are human donors and recipients The method also may be practiced with pets (dogs, cats), racing animals (dogs, horses), agriculturally important animals (cows, pigs), non-human primates (chimps, gorillas, etc ), and important lab animals (e g , rodents) The method may be practiced with xenografts of from one donor species to a different recipient species

[0010] In a related embodiment, the invention is a method for inducing tolerance or inhibiting rejection of a cell, tissue, or organ transplant, or for inhibiting arteriosclerosis in a transplant recipient, comprising administering to a mammalian transplant recipient a composition that compπses an nucleic acid that compπses a nucleotide sequence that encodes a growth factor inhibitor, such as an endothelial growth factor inhibitor, wherein the nucleic acid is expressible in cells of the recipient or expressible in the transplanted cell, tissue, or organ to produce an amount of the endothelial growth factor inhibitor effective to induce tolerance for the transplant by the recipient, or inhibit rejection, or inhibit arteπosclerosis

[001 1] In a further related embodiment, the invention provides a composition that compπses an nucleic acid that compπses a nucleotide sequence that encodes a growth factor inhibitor, such as an endothelial growth factor inhibitor for use in a method for inducing tolerance or inhibiting rejection of a cell, tissue, or organ transplant, or for inhibiting arteπosclerosis in a transplant recipient, said method compπsing admirusteπng said composition to a mammalian transplant recipient such as an endothelial growth factor inhibitor, wherein the nucleic acid is expressible in cells of the recipient or expressible in the transplanted cell, tissue, or organ to produce an amount of the endothelial growth factor inhibitor effective to induce tolerance for the transplant by the recipient, or inhibit rejection, or inhibit arteπosclerosis [0012] To facilitate expression of the encoded inhibitor, the nucleic acid preferably compπses at least one expression control sequence operativ ely connected to the sequence that encodes the endothelial growth factor inhibitor Exemplary expression control sequences include promoteis and enhancers, for example In some preferred \ anations, the method compπses administering an expression \ector that compπses the nucleic acid to the transplant recipient For example, the \ ector compπses a replication deficient v iral vector, such as a retrovirus, an adenov irus, an adeno-associated virus, a vaccinia virus or a herpesv irus v ector In some v aπations, the v ector is inducible by administration of an exogenous pharmaceutical agent In other vaπations, expression of the vector is induced by an endogenous stress in the organ transplant recipient, such as an elevation of a biological marker correlated v\ ith rejection In still other vaπations, the vector is constitutiv ely expressed

[0013] In still related embodiments, the method is directed to a method for reducing a transplant recipient's dependence or need for immunosuppressive drugs, by administeπng such inhibitors to the recipient, in an amount effective to reduce the dose or doing of one or more immunosuppressant drugs administered to the transplant recipient

[0014] For all embodiments of the invention, whether the therapeutic agent is a polypeptide, an antibody, a polynucleotide, a small molecule, or some combination thereof, the administered composition preferably further includes a pharmaceutically acceptable earner The composition may include one inhibitor or may include a combination of inhibitors, or may include one inhibitor that targets multiple growth factor or growth factor receptor targets descπbed herein

[0015] Methods of the invention can be practiced with respect to all vaπations of transplanted cells or tissue For example, in some vaπations, the transplant is a xenograft, and the method induces tolerance for the xenograft or inhibits xenograft rejection, or reduces xenograft-related arteπosclerosis In other preferred vaπations, the transplant is an allograft transplant, and the composition is administered in an amount effective to induce tolerance for the allograft or inhibit alloimmunity, or reduce graft related arteπosclerosis

[0016] In some vaπations, the transplant may be limited to specified cell types or to a tissue transplant For example, the cell or tissue compπses embryonic stem cells, pluπpotent stem cells, hematopoietic precursor cells, neuronal precursor cells, or endothelial precursor cells In some v ariations, the cell or tissue compπses a member selected from the group consisting of pancreatic islet cells, cardiac myocytes, bone marrow cells, endothelial cells, and skin cells

[0017] In some variations of the invention, treatment of corneal transplant patients is specifically excluded from the inv ention

[0018] In many preferred embodiments, the transplant is an organ or organ fragment capable of performing functions of the organ or capable of regenerating into the organ For example, the method is practiced on a recipient of at least one transplanted organ, or fragment thereof, selected from the group consisting of a heart, a kidney, a lung, a h\er, an intestine, a pancreas, skin, and bone In some highly preferred variations, the method is practiced on the recipient of at least one transplanted organ selected from the group consisting of heart, lung, liver, and kidney Treatment of cardiac (heart) transplant recipients is highly preferred

[0019] All variety of formulations and routes of administration are contemplated For example, in some vaπations, the composition is administered locally to the transplanted cell, tissue, or organ in the recipient In some vaπations, the composition is administered systemically to the recipient In some vaπations of the method, the composition is administered intravenously, intramuscularly, or intrapeπtoneally, or perorally

[0020] To provide just a few exemplary vaπations, pharmacological agents may preferably be administered systemically Monoclonal antibodies may be administered intravenously, intramuscularly, or intrapeπtoneally Receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitors may be administered perorally or intravenously Nucleic acid or vectors preferably would be administered intravascularly or intraparenchymally to the transplanted organ, optionally duπng the organ procurement

[0021 ] All vaπations of timing of administration also are contemplated

[0022] For example, in some variations, the method further compπses administenng the composition to the organ or the organ donor before the transplant (In other vaπations, the inhibitor composition administered at this stage contains a different inhibitor from the composition administered to the recipient ) As descπbed below in detail, donor cells are implicated in graft rejection, and administering the inhibitors to the donor organ or donor pnor to the transplant is contemplated to have beneficial effects duπng the cπtical peπoperatn e peπod.

[0023] In some variations, the method further comprises repeated administration of the composition to the recipient.

[0024] The composition may be administered to the recipient perioperatively, relative to the transplant operation. The composition may be administered for varying lengths of time after the transplant operation for prophylaxis, e.g., 1 , 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. 7, 10, 14, 21 , 28, 30, 31 , 45, 56, 60, 90, 120, 180 days post-transplant. All durations from one day to fifty years post-transplant are specifically contemplated.

[0025] The composition may be administered at varying frequencies. For example, the composition may be administered once a day or more, for example 2, 3, 4, 5 or more times a day; in an alternative the composition may be administered once or more each week, for example, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7 times each week.

[0026] The composition may be administered in varying doses. The precise effective amount for a human subject will depend upon the general health of the subject, age, weight, and gender of the subject, diet, time and frequency of administration, drug combination(s), reaction sensitivities, and tolerance/response to therapy. This amount can be determined by routine experimentation and is within the judgement of the clinician. Generally, an effective dose will be from 0.01 mg/kg to 50 mg/kg, preferably 0.05 mg/kg to 10 mg/kg.

[0027] In other variations, the method is practised at discrete times to ameliorate acute rejection events. For example, in some variations, the method is practiced upon detection of symptoms of rejection, and the inhibitor is administered in an amount effective to alleviate the symptoms. In some variations, the method comprises a step of screening the organ transplant recipient for symptoms of an acute rejection reaction; where the composition that contains the inhibitor is administered to the recipient upon detection of symptoms of acute rejection, in an amount effective to inhibit the rejection.

[0028] A wide variety of growth factor (including endothelial growth factor) inhibitors are described below in detail for practice of the invention. Some of the inhibitors bind to a growth factor or to a receptor, and may be described below as binding constructs. A binding construct may compπse one or more binding units, as set out in more detail below Other inhibitors may act indirectly, e g , at the lev el of effecting gene or protein expression, or inhibiting downstream signaling by an activ ated receptor

[0029] In some variations, the endothelial growth factor inhibitor compπses a compound that inhibits stimulation of at least one receptor selected from the group consisting of VEGFR-I , VEGFR-2, VEGFR-3, PDGFR-alpha, and PDGFR-beta by a growth factor ligand of said at least one receptor In some highly preferred v aπations, the endothelial growth factor inhibitor compπses a compound that inhibits stimulation of VEGFR-3 by VEGF-C or inhibits stimulation of VEGFR-3 by VEGF-D

[0030] By inhibiting stimulation of at least one receptor it is meant that the activity of the at least one receptor is reduced to 90%, 80%, 70%, 60%, 50%, 40%, 30%, 20% or less (e g 10%, 5%, 1% or less) of the activity in the absence of the inhibitor

[0031 ] For example, in some embodiments, the compound compπses an antibody substance selected from the group consisting of antibody substances that immunoreact with VEGFR-3, antibody substances that immunoreact with VEGF-C, and antibody substances that immunoreact with VEGF-D The term antibody substance is intended to refer to traditional antibodies and also to the wide vaπety of engineered antibody fragments and vaπants that are engineered for therapeutic purposes For example, exemplary preferred antibody substances include a humanized antibody, a human antibody, a monoclonal antibody, a fragment of an antibody that retains antigen binding characteπstics, and a polypeptide that compπses an antigen binding fragment of an antibody A preferred antibody substance is a monoclonal antibody (preferably humanized or fully human) that binds VEGFR-3 or VEGF-C or VEGF-D and inhibits binding between VEGFR-3 and VEGF-C or -D

[0032] Yet another preferred class of inhibitor substances are soluble receptor constructs that are capable of binding circulating endothelial cell growth factor molecules and preventing them from binding and stimulating receptors expressed on endothelial or other cell surfaces Thus, in some embodiments, the endothelial growth factor inhibitor compπses a soluble receptor that binds to at least one endothelial cell growth factor. In a preferred vaπation, the endothelial growth factor inhibitor compπses a soluble VEGFR-3 polypeptide that binds to VEGF-C or VEGF-D For example, the soluble VEGFR-3 polypeptide comprises the VEGFR-3 extracellular domain, or a fragment thereof sufficient to bind VEGF-C or VEGF-D. Exemplary fragments include the first and second immunoglobulin-like domains of the VEGFR-3; or include the first, second, and third immunoglobulin-like domains of the VEGFR-3. In some preferred variations, the soluble receptor is fused to an immunoglobulin constant domain to increase serum half life. Such constructs can be expressed recombinantly, as fusion proteins.

[0033] In still another variation, the inhibitor comprises an antisense nucleic acid or an interfering RNA nucleic acid that inhibits expression of an endothelial cell growth factor or endothelial cell growth factor receptor. Preferred examples include a short interfering RNA that inhibits expression of a protein selected from the group consisting of VEGFR-3, VEGF-C, and VEGF-D; and an antisense nucleic acid that inhibits expression of a protein selected from the group consisting of VEGFR-3, VEGF-C, and VEGF-D.

[0034] By inhibiting the expression of a protein it is meant that the level of the protein is reduced to 90%, 80%, 70%, 60%, 50%, 40%, 30%, 20% or less (e.g. 10%, 5%, 1% or less) of the level in the absence of the inhibitor.

[0035] Ln still other variations of the invention, the inhibitor compound comprises bevacizumab (Avastin®) or Ranibizumab (Lucentis®), both marketed by Genentech.

[0036] In some variations of the invention, a composition that comprises two different inhibitors is administered; or a two or more inhibitor compositions are administered. Combinations that include an inhibitor of VEGFR-3 (or VEGF-C or VEGF-D) in combination with an inhibitor of one or more of the following growth factor receptors (or their ligands) are particularly preferred: VEGFR- I , VEGFR-2, PDGFR-alpha, and PDGFR-beta.

[0037] In still other variations of the invention, the compound is a multivalent inhibitor of two or more receptors selected from the group consisting of VEGFR-I , VEGFR-2,

VEGFR-3, PDGFR-alpha, and PDGFR-beta. For example, in some variations, the method of the invention comprises administering to the transplant recipient a composition that inhibits ligand binding to VEGFR-2 and inhibits ligand binding to VEGFR-3.

[0038] It is contemplated that the inhibitors of the invention protect the transplant recipient by different mechanisms than traditional or existing immunosuppressive regimens In some vaπations of the invention, the inhibitors of the inv ention are coadministered w ith lmmunosuppressiv e therapv The combination is expected to prov ide at least additiv e, and preferably synergistic, effects compared to either type of agent alone The synergistic effects can be in the form of increased efficacy for sumv al of the transplant, and also for reduced side effects, possibly due to the need for reduced dosing of the immunosuppressive agents

[0039] Thus, in some vaπations, the method of the inv ention further compπses administering an immunosuppressive agent to the organ transplant recipient Exemplary classes of immunosuppressi\e agents include corticosteroids, calcineuπne inhibitors, antiproliferative agents, monoclonal antilymphocyte antibodies, and pol> clonal antilymphocyte antibodies Exemplary immunosuppressiv e agents include Tacrolimus, Mycophenohc acid, Prednisone, Ciclospoπn, Azatlnopπne, Basiliximab, C>closponne, Dachzumab, Muromonab-CD3, Mycophenolate Mofetil, Sirolimus, Methylprednisolone, Atgam, Thymoglobulin, OKT3, Rapamycin, Azathiopπne, Cyclospoπne, and Interleukin- 2 Receptor Antagonist These agents can be administered singly or in combination

[0040] In yet another v aπation, the method of the invention further compπsing administering an antibiotic or antifungal agent to the recipient, to protect the recipient from infections

[0041 ] In still further vanations of the invention, the transplant recipient is helped by pre- treating the donor (or the tissue or organ to be transplanted), with the inhibitory agent Thus, in some embodiments, the method of the invention further compπses administeπng to a donor organism a composition that compπses an endothelial growth factor inhibitor, pπor to harvesting a cell, tissue, or organ for transplantation into the recipient In other embodiments, the method further compπses contacting a cell, tissue, or organ with a composition that compπses an endothelial growth factor inhibitor, pnor to transplanting the cell, tissue, or organ into the mammalian organ transplant recipient In still other embodiments, the method further compπses administeπng to a donor organism, pπor to harvesting cells, tissue, or an organ for transplantation, a composition that compπses an nucleic acid that compπses a nucleotide sequence that encodes an endothelial growth factor inhibitor, wherein the nucleic acid is expressible in cells of the tissue or organ to be transplanted In still further vaπations, the method further compπses contacting a cell, tissue, or organ with a composition that compnses an nucleic acid that compπses a nucleotide sequence that encodes an endothelial growth factor inhibitor, pπor to transplanting the cell, tissue, or organ into the recipient

[0042] Other embodiments of the invention do not require administration of a growth factor inhibitor to the recipient at all For example, one embodiment of the inv ention is a method of preparing a donor cell, tissue, or organ for allograft or xenograft transplantation compπsing contacting the cell, tissue, or organ with a composition that compπses a growth factor inhibitor, such as an endothelial growth factor inhibitor, pπor to transplanting the cell, tissue, or organ into a mammalian organ transplant recipient A related embodiment is a method of prepaπng a donor cell, tissue, or organ for allograft or xenograft transplantation compπsing contacting the cell, tissue, or organ w ith a composition that compπses an nucleic acid that compπses a nucleotide sequence that encodes a growth factor inhibitor, such as an endothelial growth factor inhibitor, pπor to transplanting the cell, tissue, or organ into a mammalian organ transplant recipient

[0043] Other vaπations of the invention are directed to matenal, useful for practicing methods of the invention For example, in one embodiment, the invention is a composition that compπses an endothelial growth factor inhibitor, an immunosuppressant, and a pharmaceutically acceptable earner Preferably, the inhibitor and the immunosuppressant are present in the composition in synergistically effectiv e amounts

[0044] In a related vaπation, the invention is a kit or unit dose in which the inhibitor and the immunosuppressant are packaged together, but not in admixture

[0045] The present invention relates to compositions and methods of use thereof for the inhibition of graft (e g , allograft) rejection and graft-related arteπosclerosis, and inhibition of other effects of members of the PDGF/VEGF family of growth factors VEGF-A, VEGF-B, VEGF-C, VEGF-D, VEGF-E, PlGF, PDGF-A, PDGF-B, PDGF-C, and PDGF- D, each of which is able to bind at least one growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase and stimulate phosphorylation of the same The compositions of the invention include binding constructs that bind one or more PDGF/VEGF molecules The binding constructs include one or more binding units Likewise, many of the inhibitors for use in practicing the invention are descπbed herein as binding units or binding constructs

[0046] In some embodiments, the binding unit compπses a polypeptide, e g , a fragment of a growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase extracellular domain The invention also pro\ ides nucleic acids encoding such binding constructs, and uses thereof Binding units are not limited to receptor fragments, nor are thev limited to polypeptides, but rather comprise any species that binds a growth factor or binds a receptor, and thereby inhibits the circulating growth factor from binding or stimulating the receptor naturally expressed on the surface of cells Administration of the compositions of the invention to patients inhibits growth factor stimulation of VEGF receptors and/or PDGF receptors (e g , inhibits phosphorylation of the receptors) and thereby inhibits biological responses mediated through the receptors including, but not limited to, PDGFR- and/or VEGFR-mediated angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis

[0047] Each member of the growth factor genus described abo\ e binds w ith high affinit> to, and stimulation phosphorylation of, at least one PDGF receptor or VEGF receptor (or receptor heterodimer) selected from VEGFR- I , VEGFR-2, VEGFR-3, PDGFR-alpha, and PDGFR-beta This statement refers to well known properties of the growth factors toward their cognate receptors, and is not meant as a limiting feature per se of the binding constructs of the invention (For example, VEGF-A has been shown to bind to VEGFR- I and VEGFR-2 and induce tyrosine phosphorylation of both receptors and initiate downstream receptor signaling ) However, preferred binding units of the invention do more than simply bind their target growth factors a preferred binding construct also inhibits the growth factor(s) to which it binds from stimulating phosphorylation of at least one (and preferably all) of the receptor tyrosine kinases to which the growth factor(s) bind Stimulation of tyrosine phosphorylation is readily measured using in vitro cell-based assays and anti-phosphotyrosine antibodies Because phosphorylation of the receptor tyrosine kinases is an initial step in a signaling cascade, it is a convenient indicator of whether the binding construct is capable of inhibiting growth factor-mediated signal transduction that leads to cell migration, cell growth, and other responses A number of other cell based and in vivo assays can be used to confirm the growth factor neutralizing properties of binding constructs of the invention

[0048] As descπbed herein, binding constructs can be chemically modified (e g , heterologous peptide fusions, glycosylation, pegylation, etc ) to impart desired characteristics, while maintaining their specific growth factor binding properties An exemplary peptide fusion compπses a immunoglobulin constant domain fragment Exemplary desired characteπstics imparted by chemical modifications include increased serum half life, increased solubility in an aqueous medium, and the abiht\ to target a specific cell population, e g , cancer cells

[0049] Binding constructs and units that are "specific" for a particular growth factor are binding constructs and units that specifically recognize a circulating, actn e form of the growth factor Preferably, the binding constructs specificall) bind other forms of the growth factors as well By way of example, VEGF-A exists in multiple lsoforms, some of which circulate and others of which associate with heparin sulfate proteoglycans on cell surfaces Binding constructs that are specific for VEGF-A bind to at least a circulating isoform, preferably all circulating isoforms, and more preferably, bind other major isoforms as well By way of another example, VEGF-C is translated as a prepro-molecule with extensiv e amino-terminal and carboxy-terminal propeptides that are clea\ ed to yield a "fully processed" form of VEGF-C that binds and stimulates VEGFR-2 and VEGFR-3 Binding constructs specific for VEGF-C bind to at least the fully processed form of VEGF- C, and preferably also bind to partly processed forms and unprocessed forms

[0050] Additional descπption is used herein when a more specialized meaning is intended For example, VEGF-B 167 is heparin bound whereas VEGF-B 186 is freely secreted An binding construct of the invention that minimally binds the circulating isoform is said to be specific for VEGF-B, and such a binding construct preferably also binds the heparin bound form A binding construct of the invention that is "specific for hepaπn-bound VEGF-B" or "specific for VEGF-B 167" is a binding construct that differentially recognizes the heparin bound isoform, compared to the freely circulating isoform A binding construct of the invention that is specific for VEGF-Bl 86" is a binding construct that differentially recognizes the circulating form, compared to the hepaπn bound form Binding constructs specific for each isoform of a growth factor are contemplated as components of some embodiments of the binding constructs of the invention

[0051] The designations "first" and "second" and "third" in respect to the binding units of the binding constructs is for ease and clarity in descπption only, and is not meant to signify a particular order, e g , order in the amino acid sequence of a polypeptide binding construct

[0052] A binding construct comprising two or more binding units may further comprise a linker connecting adjacent binding units The linker may take on a number of different forms. Preferably, the linker comprises a peptide which allows adjacent binding units to be linked to form a single polypeptide.

[0053] The invention also includes compositions comprising a polypeptide, binding construct, or nucleic acid encoding the same, together with a pharmaceutically acceptable carrier. Such compositions may further comprise a pharmaceutically acceptable diluent, adjuvant, or carrier medium.

[0054] Nucleic acids (polynucleotides) of the invention include nucleic acids that constitute binding units, e.g., aptamers, and also nucleic acids that encode polypeptide binding units and constructs, which may be used for such applications as gene therapy and recombinant in vitro expression of polypeptide binding constructs. In some embodiments, nucleic acids are purified or isolated. In some embodiments, polynucleotides further comprise a promoter sequence operatively connected to a nucleotide sequence encoding a polypeptide, wherein the promoter sequence promotes transcription of the sequence that encodes the polypeptide in a host cell. Polynucleotides may also comprise a polyadenylation sequence. Other nucleic acids of the invention (e.g., antisense nucleic acids, interfering RNA nucleic acids) operate to inhibit transcription or translation of growth factor genes or receptor genes.

[0055] Vectors comprising polynucleotides are also aspects of the invention. Such vectors may comprise an expression control sequence operatively connected to the sequence that encodes the polypeptide, and the vector may be selected from the group consisting of a lentivirus vector, an adeno-associated viral vector, an adenoviral vector, a liposomal vector, and combinations thereof. In some embodiments, the vector comprises a replication-deficient adenovirus, said adenovirus comprising the polynucleotide operatively connected to a promoter and flanked by adenoviral polynucleotide sequences. Host cells comprising the polynucleotides, vectors and other nucleic acids, and methods for using the same to express and isolate the binding constructs and units are also aspects of the invention.

[0056] For binding units of a binding construct that comprises an aptamer, the aptamer may be generated by preparing a library of nucleic acids; contacting the library of nucleic acids with a growth factor, wherein nucleic acids having greater binding affinity for the growth factor (relative to other library nucleic acids) are selected and amplified to yield a mixture of nucleic acids enriched for nucleic acids with relatn ely higher affinity and specificity for binding to the grow th factor The processes may be repeated, and the selected nucleic acids mutated and rescreened, \vhereb> a grow th factor aptamer is be identified Nucleic acids may be screened to select for molecules that bind to more than growth factor

[0057] In one aspect of the invention, the binding construct compπses a purified polypeptide compπsing an amino acid sequence at least 95% identical to a \ ascular endothelial growth factor receptor 3(VEGFR-3) fragment, wherein the VEGFR-3 fragment compπses an amino acid sequence consisting of a portion of SEQ ID NO 6, wherein the carboxy-terminal residue of the fragment is selected from the group consisting of positions 21 1 to 247 of SEQ ID NO 6 The fragment, and the polypeptide comprising the same, specifically bind to at least one growth factor selected from the group consisting of human vascular endothelial growth factor-C (VEGF-C), and human vascular endothelial growth factor-D (VEGF-D) In some embodiments the VEGFR-3 fragments has an amino terminal amino acid selected from the group consisting of positions 1 to 47 of SEQ ID NO 6 In some embodiments, the polypeptide compπses an amino acid sequence selected from the group consisting of SEQ ID NOS 36 and 38 In some embodiments, the fragment has an amino acid sequence selected from the group consisting of positions 1 -226 and 1-229 of SEQ ID NO 6 In some embodiments, the polypeptide is part of a binding construct, and the polypeptide is operatively connected with a second polypeptide that binds at least one growth factor selected from the group consisting of VEGF-A, VEGF-B, VEGF-C, VEGF- D, VEGF-E, PlGF, PDGF-A, PDGF-B, PDGF-C, and PDGF-D In some embodiments, the second polypeptide is selected from the group consisting of a polypeptide compπsing a vascular endothelial growth factor receptor extracellular domain fragment, a platelet deπved growth factor receptor extracellular domain fragment, and a polypeptide compπsing an antigen binding fragment of an antibody that immunoreacts with the at least one of said growth factors In some embodiments, at least one of the polypeptides is encoded by a polynucleotide compπsing a nucleotide sequence selected from the group consisting of SEQ ID NOS 35 and 37

[0058] In another aspect of the invention, a binding construct compπses a puπfied polypeptide compπsing an amino acid sequence at least 95% identical to a VEGFR-2 fragment, wherein the VEGFR-2 fragment compπses an amino acid sequence consisting of a portion of SEQ ID NO 4, wherein the amino terminal amino acid of the VEGFR-2 fragment is selected from the group consisting of positions 106- 145 of SEQ ID NO 4, wherein the carboxy terminal amino acid of the VEGFR-2 fragment is selected from the group consisting of positions 203 to 240 of SEQ ID NO 4, and wherein the VEGFR-2 fragment and the polypeptide bind VEGF-C or VEGF-D In some embodiments, the polypeptide compπses an amino acid sequence selected from the group consisting of SEQ ID NO 22. 24, and 26 In some embodiments, the fragment consists of an amino acid sequence selected from the group consisting of residues 1 18-220, 1 18-226, and 1 18-232 of SEQ ID NO 4 In some embodiments, the polypeptide is part of a binding construct, and the polypeptide is operatively connected with a second polypeptide that binds at least one growth factor selected from the group consisting of VEGF-A, VEGF-B, VEGF-C, VEGF- D, VEGF-E, PlGF, PDGF-A, PDGF-B, PDGF-C, and PDGF-D In some embodiments, the second polypeptide is selected from the group consisting of a polypeptide compπsing a vascular endothelial growth factor receptor extracellular domain fragment, a platelet deπved growth factor receptor extracellular domain fragment, and a polypeptide compπsing an antigen binding fragment of an antibody that immunoreacts with the at least one of said growth factors In some embodiments, at least one of the polypeptides is encoded by a polynucleotide comprising a nucleotide sequence selected from the group consisting of SEQ ID NOS. 21 , 23, and 25

[0059] In still another aspect, the invention provides a binding construct compπsing a first polypeptide operatively connected to a second polypeptide. The first and second polypeptides each binds at least one growth factor selected from the group consisting of VEGF-A, VEGF-B, VEGF-C, VEGF-D, VEGF-E, PlGF, PDGF-A, PDGF-B, PDGF-C, and PDGF-D polypeptides The amino acid sequence of the first polypeptide differs from the amino acid sequence of the second polypeptide. The first and second polypeptides compπse members independently selected from the group consisting of.

[0060] (a) a polypeptide compπsing an amino acid sequence at least 35% identical, preferably 40%, 45%, 50%, 55%, 60%, 65%, 70%, 75 %, 80%, 85%, 90%, 91%, 92%, 93%, 94%, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%, 99 5%, or 100% identical, to the VEGFR-I extracellular domain amino acid sequence compπsing positions 27-758 of SEQ ID NO 2,

[0061] (b) a fragment of (a) that binds VEGF-A, VEGF-B, or PlGF, [0062] (c) a polypeptide comprising an amino acid sequence at least 35% identical, preferably 40%, 45%, 50%, 55%, 60%, 65%, 70%, 75 %, 80%, 85%, 90%, 91%, 92%, 93%, 94%, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%, 99.5%, or 100% identical, to the VEGFR-2 extracellular domain amino acid sequence comprising positions 20-764 of SEQ ID NO: 4;

[0063] (d) a fragment of (c) that binds VEGF-A, VEGF-C, VEGF-E or VEGF-D;

[0064] (e) a polypeptide comprising an amino acid sequence at least 35% identical, preferably 40%, 45%, 50%, 55%, 60%, 65%, 70%, 75 %, 80%, 85%, 90%, 91%, 92%, 93%, 94%, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%, 99.5%, or 100% identical, to the VEGFR-3 extracellular domain amino acid sequence comprising residues 24-775 of SEQ ID NO: 6;

[0065] (f) a fragment of (e) that binds VEGF-C or VEGF-D;

[0066] (g) a polypeptide comprising an amino acid sequence at least 35% identical, preferably 40%, 45%, 50%, 55%, 60%, 65%, 70%, 75 %, 80%, 85%, 90%, 91%, 92%, 93%, 94%, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%, 99.5%, or 100% identical, to the neuropilin-1 extracellular domain amino acid sequence comprising residues 22-856 of SEQ ID NO: 1 13;

[0067] (h) a fragment of (g) that binds VEGF-A, VEGF-B, VEGF-C, VEGF-E, or PlGF;

[0068] (i) a polypeptide comprising an amino acid sequence at least 35% identical, preferably 40%, 45%, 50%, 55%, 60%, 65%, 70%, 75 %, 80%, 85%, 90%, 91%, 92%, 93%, 94%, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%, 99.5%, or 100% identical, to the neuropilin-2 extracellular domain amino acid sequence comprising residues 21-864 of SEQ ID NO: 1 15;

[0069] 0) a fragment of (i) that binds VEGF-A, VEGF-C, or PlGF;

[0070] (k) a polypeptide comprising an amino acid sequence at least 35% identical, preferably 40%, 45%, 50%, 55%, 60%, 65%, 70%, 75 %, 80%, 85%, 90%, 91%, 92%, 93%, 94%, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%, 99.5%, or 100% identical, to the platelet derived growth factor receptor alpha extracellular domain amino acid sequence comprising residues 24-524 of SEQ ID NO: 117;

[0071 ] (1) a fragment of (k) that binds PDGF-A, PDGF-B, or PDGF-C; [0072] (m) a polypeptide comprising an amino acid sequence at least 35% identical, preferably 40%, 45%, 50%, 55%, 60%, 65%, 70%, 75 %, 80%, 85%, 90%, 91%, 92%, 93%, 94%, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%, 99.5%, or 100% identical, to the platelet derived growth factor beta extracellular domain amino acid sequence comprising residues 33 to 531 of SEQ ID NO: 1 19;

[0073] (n) a fragment of (m) that binds PDGF-B or PDGF-D; and

[0074] (o) a polypeptide comprising an antigen binding fragment of an antibody that binds to at least one growth factor selected from the group consisting of VEGF-A, VEGF- B, VEGF-C, VEGF-D, VEGF-E, PlGF, PDGF-A, PDGF-B, PDGF-C, and PDGF-D.

[0075] Still further examples of polypeptides that comprise binding units of the invention are antibodies and antibody fragments that immunoreact with one or more receptors selected from VEGFR-I , VEGFR-2, VEGFR-3, PDGFR-alpha, and PDGFR-beta.

[0076] In one embodiment, the binding construct of the invention comprises a first polypeptide comprising a fragment of a polypeptide comprising an amino acid sequence at least 90% identical, preferably 91 %, 92%, 93%, 94%, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%, 99.5%, or 100% identical, to the VEGFR-2 extracellular domain amino acid sequence comprising positions 20-764 of SEQ ID NO: 4, wherein the fragment binds VEGF-A, VEGF-C, VEGF-E or VEGF-D. Optionally, the binding construct further comprises a second polypeptide comprising a fragment of a polypeptide comprising an amino acid sequence at least 90% identical, preferably 91 %, 92%, 93%, 94%, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%, 99.5%, or 100% identical, to the VEGFR-I extracellular domain amino acid sequence comprising positions 27-758 of SEQ ID NO: 2; wherein the fragment binds VEGF-A, VEGF-B, or PlGF. Additionally, the binding construct optionally further comprises a third polypeptide operatively connected to the first or second polypeptide, wherein the third polypeptide comprises a fragment of a polypeptide comprising an amino acid sequence at least 90% identical, preferably 91%, 92%, 93%, 94%, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%, 99.5%, or 100% identical, to the VEGFR-3 extracellular domain amino acid sequence comprising residues 24-775 of SEQ ID NO: 6, wherein the fragment binds VEGF-C or VEGF-D.

[0077] As described herein in greater detail, the extracellular domain of VEGFR or PDGFR have immunoglobulin-like domain structure. In a related embodiment, the binding construct of the invention comprises a first, second and third polypeptide as described above, wherein: (a) the first polypeptide comprises an amino acid sequence at least 90% identical, preferably 91 %, 92%, 93%, 94%, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%, 99.5%, or 100% identical, to a fragment of the VEGFR-2 extracellular domain, wherein the fragment comprises immunoglobulin-like domain 2 amino acid sequence; (b) the second polypeptide comprises an amino acid sequence at least 90%, preferably 91 %, 92%, 93%, 94%, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%, 99.5%, or 100% identical, identical to a fragment of the VEGFR-I extracellular domain, wherein the fragment comprises immunoglobulin-like domain 3 amino acid sequence; and (c) the third polypeptide comprises an amino acid sequence at least 90%, preferably 91 %, 92%, 93%, 94%, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%, 99.5%, or 100% identical, identical to a fragment of the VEGFR-3 extracellular domain, wherein said fragment comprises VEGFR-3 immunoglobulin-like domain 1 amino acid sequence.

[0078] In another aspect, the invention involves use of a binding construct comprising: a) a first amino acid sequence at least 90%, preferably 91%, 92%, 93%, 94%, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%, 99.5%, or 100% identical, identical to a fragment of the VEGFR-3 extracellular domain, wherein said fragment comprises VEGFR-3 immunoglobulin-like domain' 1 amino acid sequence; (b) a second amino acid sequence at least 90% identical to a fragment of the VEGFR-2 extracellular domain, wherein the fragment comprises immunoglobulin-like domain 2 amino acid sequence; and, (c) a third amino acid sequence at least 90%, preferably 91 %, 92%, 93%, 94%, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%, 99.5%, or 100% identical, identical to a fragment of the VEGFR-I extracellular domain, wherein the fragment comprises immunoglobulin-like domain 3 amino acid sequence; wherein the first, second, and third amino acid sequences are operatively connected, and wherein the binding construct binds to at least VEGF-A and VEGF-C. In one embodiment, the binding construct comprises an amino acid sequence at least 95% identical, preferably 91%, 92%, 93%, 94%, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%, 99.5%, or 100% identical, to the amino acid sequence set out in SEQ ID NO: 128. In a related embodiment, the binding construct comprises the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO: 128.

[0079] In some embodiments, the binding construct of the invention comprises a first polypeptide comprising a fragment of a polypeptide comprising an amino acid sequence at least 90%, preferably 91 %, 92%, 93%, 94%, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%, 99.5%, or 100% identical, identical to the VEGFR-3 extracellular domain amino acid sequence comprising residues 24-775 of SEQ ID NO: 6, wherein the fragment binds VEGF-C or VEGF-D. It is contemplated that the binding construct of the im ention compπses a second polypeptide comprising a fragment of a polypeptide comprising an amino acid sequence at least 90% identical, preferably 91 %, 92%, 93% 94%. 95%, 96%, 97%. 98%, 99%, 99 5%. or 100% identical, to the VEGFR-2 extracellular domain amino acid sequence compπsing positions 20-764 of SEQ ID NO 4, wherein the fragment binds VEGF-A, VEGF-C, VEGF-E or VEGF-D

[0080] In a related embodiment, the binding construct of the invention compπses a first and second polypeptide as descπbed above, wherein (a) the first polypeptide compπses an amino acid sequence at least 90%, preferably 91 %, 92%, 93%, 94%. 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%, 99 5%, or 100% identical, identical to a fragment of the VEGFR-3 extracellular domain, w herein said fragment compπses VEGFR-3 lmmunoglobuhn-like domain 1 amino acid sequence, and, (b) the second polypeptide compπses an amino acid sequence at least 90%, preferably 91 %, 92%, 93%, 94%, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%, 99 5%, or 100% identical, identical to a fragment of the VEGFR-2 extracellular domain, wherein the fragment compπses lmmunoglobuhn-hke domains 2 and 3 amino acid sequence

[0081 ] In another aspect, the invention provides a binding construct compπsing a) a first amino acid sequence at least 90% preferably 91 %, 92%, 93%, 94%, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%, 99 5%, or 100% identical, identical to a fragment of the VEGFR-3 extracellular domain, wherein said fragment compπses VEGFR-3 lmmunoglobuhn-hke domain 1 amino acid sequence, and, (b) a second amino acid sequence at least 90%, preferably 91%, 92%, 93%, 94%, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%, 99 5%, or 100% identical, identical to a fragment of the VEGFR-2 extracellular domain, wherein the fragment compnses lmmunoglobuhn- hke domain 2 amino acid sequence, and an lmmunoglobulin-like domain 3 amino acid sequence, wherein the first, second, and third amino acid sequences are operatively connected, and wherein the binding construct binds to at least VEGF-A and VEGF-C It is further contemplated that the construct binds VEGF-D In one embodiment, the binding construct compπses an amino acid sequence at least 95%, preferably 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%, 99 5%, or 100% identical, identical to the amino acid sequence set out in SEQ ID NO 125 In a related embodiment, the binding construct compnses the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO 125

[0082] In some vaπations, the binding unit or units of a binding compπse antibodies or antibody antigen binding fragments In some embodiments, the binding construct comprises at least one non-antigen binding fragment binding unit In some embodiments, the binding units all compπse antigen binding fragments of antibodies Exemplary Bispecific antibodies are pro\ ided in U S Patent Application No 1 1/075,400, published as U S Patent Publication No 2005/0282233, and related, co-filed International Patent Application No PCT/US2005/007742, published as WO 2005/087812 (Attorney Docket No 28967/39820B), both applications incorporated herein by reference it their entirety Antibodies that target the growth factors identified herein, and antibodies that target the receptors identified herein, all are useful for practicing the invention Monoclonal antibody therapeutics are preferred Humanized and fully human antibodies are highly preferred, as are fragments of such antibodies

[0083] One aspect of the invention is a method for inhibiting allograft rejection or graft- related arteriosclerosis comprising administering to a mammalian subject in need of said inhibition a binding construct according to the invention, in an amount effective to inhibit the allograft rejection or the arteriosclerosis

[0084] The method may also compπse the step of screening an organ transplant recipient mammal to identify elevated levels of at least one growth factor selected from the group consisting of VEGF-A, VEGF-B, VEGF-C, VEGF-D, VEGF-E, PlGF, PDGF-A, PDGF-B, PDGF-C, and PDGF-D polypeptides In some embodiments, the screening step compπses obtaining a serum sample, a fluid sample, or a tissue sample from the transplanted organ and detecting elevated levels of at least one growth factor selected from the group consisting of VEGF-A, VEGF-B, VEGF-C, VEGF-D, VEGF-E, PlGF, PDGF-A, PDGF-B, PDGF-C, and PDGF-D polypeptides, or elevated levels of at least one receptor capable of binding the same.

[0085] The methods of the invention may also be earned out with another therapeutic. For example, other therapeutics that may be used alone, or in combination with the binding constructs of the invention, include anti-sense RNA, RNA interference, bispecific antibodies, other antibody types, and small molecules, e g , chemotherapeutic agents, which target growth factors and/or their receptors Combination therapies are preferably synergistic, but they need not be, and additive therapies are also considered aspects of the invention [0086] In addition to their use in methods, the binding constructs may be combined or packaged with other therapeutics in kits or as unit doses.

[0087] This summary of the invention is not intended to be limiting or comprehensive, and additional embodiments are described in the drawings and detailed description, including the examples. All such embodiments are aspects of the invention. Moreover, for the sake of brevity, various details that are applicable to multiple embodiments have not been repeated for every embodiment. Variations reflecting combinations and rearrangements of the embodiments described herein are intended as aspects of the invention. In addition to the foregoing, the invention includes, as an additional aspect, all embodiments of the invention narrower in scope in any way than the variations specifically mentioned above. For example, for aspects described as a genus or range, every subgenus, subrange or species is specifically contemplated as an embodiment of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Figure 1 shows that VEGFR-3 inhibition markedly improves long-term survival of rat cardiac allografts in suboptimally-immunosuppressed recipients.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0088] The present invention provides binding constructs, compositions, and materials and methods for making and using the same. The binding constructs bind growth factors that have been shown or are hypothesized to contribute to allograft rejection or arteriosclerosis in allograft recipients in vivo, and are useful for inhibiting those effects.

I. BINDING CONSTRUCTS

[0089] For the purposes of this invention, a "binding construct" comprises one or more binding units associated with each other by covalent or other forms of attachment. A "binding unit" binds a growth factor receptor or a growth factor ligand, i.e., binds to one or more growth factor polypeptides or growth factor receptor polypeptides, and preferably does so with high affinity. A binding unit preferably comprises at least one peptide or polypeptide, but other embodiments are possible as well, including organic small molecules, aptamers, and combinations of the same. While a binding unit preferably comprises a single polypeptide, it may comprise multiple polypeptides if a single polypeptide is not sufficient for binding a particular growth factor. When more than one binding unit or polypeptide segment is in a given binding construct, the binding units may be joined directl> (i e , through a co\ alent bond, e g , a peptide, ester, or sulfhydrl bond, or non-cov alently, e g , h>drophobically) together via a linker A binding construct may further include a heterologous peptide or other chemical moieties Such additions are can modify binding construct properties such as stability, solubility, toxicity, serum half-life, lmmunogenicit) , detectability, or other properties

[0090] The term "high affinity" is used in a physiological context pertaining to the relative affinity of the binding construct for the growth factor hgand(s) or receptor(s) in \ι\o in a mammal, such as a laboratory test animal, a domesticated farm or pet animal, or a human The targeted growth factors of the invention, e g the VEGF/PDGF family members, ha\ e characteπstic affinities for their receptors in vixo, typically measured in terms of sub-nanomolar dissociation constants (IQ) For the purposes of this invention, a binding construct can bind to its target growth factor(s) or receptor(s) with a ICd less than or equal to 1000 times the ICd of the natural growth factor-receptor pair, while retaining the specificity of the natural pair A binding unit that binds a growth factor with a ICd less than or equal to 10 times the ICa of the natural growth factor-receptor pair, while retaining the specificity of the natural pair, is considered high affinity While high affinity is preferred, it is not a requirement In a preferred embodiment, the affinity of the binding unit for the growth factor or receptor equals or exceeds the affinity of the natural receptor for the growth factor (or vice versa)

[0091 ] Binding affinity can be measured using standard assays known in the art Such affinities may be readily determined using conventional techniques, such as by using a BIAcore instrument or by radioimmunoassay using radiolabeled target antigen Affinity data may be analyzed, for example, by the method of Scatchard et al , Ann N Y Acad Sci , 51 660 (1949)

[0092] By binding activity is meant the ability to bind to a ligand, receptor, or binding construct, and does not require the retention of biological activity in so far as enzymatic activity or signaling is concerned Binding may include either binding to a monomer or a dimer, homodimers or heterodimers, whether of receptors or hgands Polypeptides for use according to the present invention can be used in the form of a protein dimer, particularly a disulfide-linked dimer Mechanistic descπptions of binding constructs, e g , as ligand traps, are not meant to be limiting For example, a binding construct comprising a receptor extracellular domain fragment may function by foπning inactive dnners with an endogenous receptor monomer

[0093] In some embodiments, a binding construct compπses a first binding unit (e g , a polypeptide) operatively associated with a second binding unit (e g , a polypeptide), wherein each binding unit binds a growth factor selected from the group consisting of VEGF-A, VEGF-B, VEGF-C, VEGF-D, VEGF-E, PlGF, PDGF-A, PDGF-B, PDGF-C, PDGF-D, Dl 701 VEGF, NZ2 VEGF, NZ7 VEGF, and fallotein In some embodiments the first and second binding units act together to bind a single ligand molecule (wherein the ligand may comprise a monomer or dimer) In some embodiments, the binding units act independently, i e , each polypeptide binds a separate ligand molecule In some embodiments, the first and second binding units are capable of either acting together or acting independently to bind one or more ligand polypeptides In some embodiments, a binding unit of a first binding construct is able to interact with a binding unit on a second binding construct, e g , to form dimers between binding units

[0094] In some embodiments, a binding construct compπses a first binding unit operatively associated with a second binding unit, wherein each binding unit binds to a growth factor receptor selected from the group consisting of VEGFR-I , VEGFR-2, VEGFR-3, PDGFR-alpha, PDGFR-beta, and the neuropihns.

[0095] In some embodiments, the binding construct compπses a first polypeptide operatively connected to a second polypeptide, wherein the first and second polypeptides each binds at least one growth factor selected from the group consisting of VEGF-A, VEGF-B, VEGF-C, VEGF-D, VEGF-E, and PlGF polypeptides, or bind at least one growth factor receptor selected from VEGFR-I , VEGFR-2, VEGFR-3, PDGFR-alpha, PDGFR-beta, and the neuropilins, wherein the amino acid sequence of the first polypeptide differs from the amino acid sequence of the second polypeptide, and wherein the first and second polypeptides compπse members independently selected from the group consisting of

[0096] (a) a polypeptide compnsing an amino acid sequence at least 35% identical, preferably 40%, 45%, 50%, 55%, 60%, 65%, 70%, 75 %, 80%, 85%. 90%, 91%, 92%, 93%, 94%, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%, 99 5%, or 100% identical, to the VEGFR-I extracellular domain amino acid sequence composing positions 27-758 of SEQ ID NO 2, [0097] (b) a fragment of (a) that binds VEGF-A, VEGF-B, or PlGF;

[0098] (c) a polypeptide comprising an amino acid sequence at least 35% identical, preferably 40%, 45%, 50%, 55%, 60%, 65%, 70%, 75 %, 80%, 85%, 90%, 91 %, 92%, 93%, 94%, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%, 99.5%, or 100% identical, to the VEGFR-2 extracellular domain amino acid sequence comprising positions 20-764 of SEQ ID NO: 4;

[0099] (d) a fragment of (c) that binds VEGF-A, VEGF-C, VEGF-E or VEGF-D;

[00100] (e) a polypeptide comprising an amino acid sequence at least 35% identical, preferably 40%, 45%, 50%, 55%, 60%, 65%, 70%, 75 %, 80%, 85%, 90%, 91%, 92%, 93%, 94%, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%, 99.5%, or 100% identical, to the VEGFR-3 extracellular domain amino acid sequence comprising residues 24-775 of SEQ ID NO: 6;

[00101 ] (f) a fragment of (e) that binds VEGF-C or VEGF-D;

[00102] (g) a polypeptide comprising an amino acid sequence at least 35% identical, preferably 40%, 45%, 50%, 55%, 60%, 65%, 70%, 75 %, 80%, 85%, 90%, 91%, 92%, 93%, 94%, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%, 99.5%, or 100% identical, to the neuropilin-1 extracellular domain amino acid sequence comprising residues 22-856 of SEQ ID NO: 1 13;

[00103] (h) a fragment of (g) that binds VEGF-A, VEGF-B, VEGF-C, VEGF-E, or PlGF;

[00104] (i) a polypeptide comprising an amino acid sequence at least 35% identical, preferably 40%, 45%, 50%, 55%, 60%, 65%, 70%, 75 %, 80%, 85%, 90%, 91%, 92%, 93%, 94%, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%, 99.5%, or 100% identical, to the neuropilin-2 extracellular domain amino acid sequence comprising residues 21 -864 of SEQ ID NO: 1 15;

[00105] (j) a fragment of (i) that binds VEGF-A, VEGF-C, or PlGF;

[00106] (k) a polypeptide comprising an amino acid sequence at least 35% identical, preferably 40%, 45%, 50%, 55%, 60%, 65%, 70%, 75 %, 80%, 85%, 90%, 91%, 92%, 93%, 94%, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%, 99.5%, or 100% identical, to the platelet derived growth factor receptor alpha extracellular domain amino acid sequence comprising residues 24-524 of SEQ ID NO: 1 17; [00107] (1) a fragment of (k) that binds PDGF-'A, PDGF-B, or PDGF-C,

[00108] (m) a polypeptide comprising an amino acid sequence at least 35% identical, preferably 40%, 45%, 50%, 55%, 60%, 65%, 70%, 75 %. 80%, 85%. 90%, 91%, 92%, 93%, 94%, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%, 99 5%, or 100% identical, to the platelet derived growth factor beta extracellular domain amino acid sequence comprising residues 33 to 531 of SEQ ID NO 1 19,

[00109] (n) a fragment of (m) that binds PDGF-B or PDGF-D,

[001 10] (o) an antibody that binds to at least one growth factor or receptor selected from the group consisting of VEGF-A, VEGF-B, VEGF-C. VEGF-D, VEGF-E, PlGF, PDGF-A, PDGF-B, PDGF-C, PDGF-D, VEGFR-I , VEGFR-2. VEGFR-3, PDGFR-alpha, and PDGFR-beta,

[001 1 1 ] (p) a polypeptide comprising an antigen binding fragment of an antibody that binds to at least one growth factor selected from the group consisting of VEGF-A, VEGF- B, VEGF-C, VEGF-D, VEGF-E, PlGF, PDGF-A, PDGF-B, PDGF-C, and PDGF-D; or of an antibody that binds to at least one growth factor receptor selected from the group consisting of VEGFR-I , VEGFR-2, VEGFR-3, PDGFR-alpha, and PDGFR-beta,

[001 12] (q) a polypeptide that binds at least one growth factor selected from the group consisting of VEGF-A, VEGF-B, VEGF-C, VEGF-D, VEGF-E, PlGF, PDGF-A, PDGF-B, PDGF-C, and PDGF-D polypeptides, wherein the polypeptide is generated using phage display,

[001 13] (r) compounds that comprises peptide fragments of one or more of VEGF-A, VEGF-B, VEGF-C, VEGF-D, VEGF-E, PlGF, PDGF-A, PDGF-B, PDGF-C, and PDGF- D, and that inhibit the binding between such growth factors and their receptors; and

[001 14] (s) an organic molecule that mimics the binding properties of (a)-(r)

[001 15] In some embodiments, the binding units all comprise antigen binding fragments Exemplary bispecific antibodies are provided in U. S Patent Application No 1 1/075,400, published as U S Patent Publication No 2005/0282233, and related International Patent Application No PCT/US2005/007742, published as WO 2005/087812 (Attorney Docket No. 28967/39820B), both applications incorporated herein by reference it their entirety [001 16] In some embodiments, one or more of the polypeptides of a binding construct is replaced with another type of molecule, e g , a nucleic acid, that mimics the binding properties of any of the polypeptides descπbed above in (a) through (p) Such nucleic acids include, for example, aptamers

A. Binding Units

[001 17] The growth factors that are the targets of the binding constructs of the invention exert their physiological effects in \no by binding to the extracellular domains of growth factor receptors Accordingly, grow th factor receptors and fragments thereof constitute examples of binding units Exemplary human nucleotide and amino acid sequences, for relevant ligands and receptors are set forth in the sequence listing as summaπzed below

TABLE IA: RECEPTOR SEQUENCES

RECEPTOR SEQ ID NOS

VEGFR- I 1 and 2

VEGFR-2 3 and 4

VEGFR-3 short 5 and 6

VEGFR-3 long 120 and 121

PDGFR-α 1 16 and 1 17

PDGFR-β 1 18 and 1 19

Neuropilin-1 1 12 and 1 13

Neuropilin-2 1 14 and 1 15

TABLE IB: LIGAND SEQUENCES

LIGAND SEQ ID NOS

VEGF-A 80 and 81

[001 18] Other VEGF growth factors members include snake venom VEGFs (e.g., EMBL. AYO33151 , AY033152, and AY42981), various VEGF-E (orf virus VEGF homologs, some of which are presented in Table 1 B) molecules including VEGF-E NZ2 [S67520], VEGF-E NZ7, VEGF-E D 1701, VEGF-E Orf-1 1 , and VEGF-E OV-IA82. [See generally, WO 00/25085.]

[001 19] Members of the PDGF/VEGF family are characterized by a number of structural motifs including a conserved PDGF motif defined by the sequence: P-[PS]-C-V-X(3)-R-C- [GSTA]-G-C-C (SEQ ID NO: 1 1 1 ), where the brackets indicate a variable position that can be any one of the amino acids within the brackets. The number contained within the parentheses indicates the number of amino acids that separate the "V" and "R" residues. This conserved motif falls within a large domain of 70-150 amino acids defined in part by eight highly conserved cysteine residues that form inter- and intramolecular disulfide bonds This domain forms a cysteine knot motif composed of two disulfide bonds w hich form a covalently linked πng structure between two adjacent β strands, and a third disulfide bond that penetrates the nng [see for example, Fig 1 in Muller et al Structure 5 1325-1338 (1997)], similar to that found in other cysteine knot growth factors, e g , transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) The amino acid sequence of all known PDGF/VEGF proteins, with the exception of VEGF-E. contains the PDGF domain The PDGF/VEGF family proteins are predominantly secreted glycoproteins that form either disulfide-hnked or non-covalently bound homo- or heterodimers whose subunits are arranged in an anti-parallel manner [Stacker and Achen, Grow th Factois 17 1 -1 1 (1999), Muller et al Structure 5 1325- 1338 (1997)] Binding constructs of the in\ ention include those that bind VEGF/PDGF growth factor monomers, homodimers, and heterodimers

[00120] The VEGF subfamily is composed of members that share a VEGF homology domain (VHD) characterized by the sequence C-X(22-24)-P-[PSR]-C-V-X(3)-R-C- [GSTA]-G-C-C-X(6)-C-X(32-41)-C (SEQ ID 1 10) The VHD domain, determined through analysis of the VEGF subfamily members, compπses the PDGF motif but is more specific The VEGF subfamily of growth factors and receptors regulate the de\ elopment and growth of the vascular endothelial system VEGF family members include, but are not limited to VEGF-A, VEGF-B, VEGF-C, VEGF-D and PlGF [Li, X and U Eπksson, "Novel VEGF Family Members VEGF-B, VEGF-C and VEGF-D." Int J Biochem Cell Biol , 33(4) 421 -6 (2001 ))] Other VEGFs are bacteπal or viral, the "VEGF-Es " Other VEGFs are deπved from snake venom, the "NZ" seπes [See e g , Komoπ, et al Biochemistry, 38(36) 1 1796-803 (1999), Gasmi, et al , Biochem Biophys Res Commun, 268(1) 69-72 (2002), Gasmi, et al , J Biol Chem, 277(33) 29992-8 (2002), de Azevedo, et al , J Biol Chem , 276 39836-39842 (2001)]

[00121 ] At least seven cell surface receptors that interact with PDGF/VEGF family members have been identified These include PDGFR-α [See e g , GenBank Ace No NM006206, Swiss Prot No Pl 6234], PDGFR-β [See e g , GenBank Ace No NM002609, Swiss Prot No P09619], VEGFR-l/Flt-1 (fms-hke tyrosine kinase- 1 , hereinafter "R-I ") [GenBank Ace No X51602, De Vπes, et al Science 255 989-991 (1992)], VEGFR-

2/KDR/Flk-l (kinase insert domain containing receptor/fetal liver kinase- 1 , hereinafter "R- 2") [GenBank Ace Nos X59397 (FIk-I ) and L04947 (KDR), Terman, et al , Biochem Biophys Res Comm 187 1579-1586 (1992), Matthews, et al , Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 88.9026-9030 (1991 )], VEGFR-3/FU4 (frns-hke tyrosine kinase 4, hereinafter "R-3") [U S Patent No 5,776,755 and GenBank Ace. No X68203 and S66407; Pajusola et al Oncogene 9 3545-3555 (1994), Hughes, et al , J MoI E\ ol 52(2) 77-79 (2001 ), Pajusola, et al , Oncogene 8(1 1) 2931 -37) (1993), Borg, e/ α/ , Oncogene 10(5).973-984 (1995), neuropilin-1 [Gen Bank Ace. No NM003873], and neuropilin-2 [Gen Bank Ace No NMOO3872, SwissProt O60462], The two PDGF receptors mediate signaling of PDGFs Non-human VEGF and PDGF receptors may also be employed as part of the invention, e g , chicken VEGFR-I may be used alone or in hybπd form with human R-I for impro\ ed expression.

[00122] VEGF121 , VEGF165, VEGF-B, PlGF-I and P1GF-2 bind VEGF-Rl , VEGF121 , VEGF 145, VEGFl 65, (fully processed mature) VEGF-C, (fully processed mature) VEGF- D, VEGF-E, and NZ2 VEGF bind VEGF-R2. VEGF-C and VEGF-D bind VEGFR-3, VEGF165, VEGF-C, P1GF-2, and NZ2 VEGF bind neuropilin- 1 ; and VEGF165 and VEGF-C binds neuropilin-2. [Neufeld, et al , FASEB J 13 9-22 (1999), Stacker and Achen, Grow th Factors 17: 1 -1 1 ( 1999); Ortega, et al , Fron Biosci 4: 141 -152 (1999), Zachary, lntl J Biochem Cell Bw 30: 1 169-1 174 (1998), Petrova, et al , Exp Cell Res 253: 1 17-130 (1999); U.S. Pat. Appl. Pub. No. 200301 13324], PDGF-A, PDGF-B, and PDGF-C bind PDGFR-α. PDGF-B and PDGF-D bind PDGF-β.

[00123] Both the hgands and the receptors generally exist as dimers, including both homodimers and heterodimers. Such dimers can influence binding. For example, for the PDGFs, PDGF-AA binds PDGFR-α/α. PDGF-AB and PDGF-CC bind PDGFR-α/α and PDGFR-α/β PDGFR-BB binds both of the homodimers and the heterodimeπc PDGF receptor. PDGF-DD binds PDGF receptor heterodimers and beta receptor homodimers. [See, e g , Pietras, et al., Cancer Cell, 3:439-443 (2003).] VEGF-A can heterodimeπze with VEGF-B and PlGF. The VEGFs, PDGFs, and PlGFs, may exist as two or more isoforms, e g , splice variants, and not all isoforms of a particular growth factor will share the same binding profile, or ability to dimeπze with particular molecules. Certain isoforms of the same growth factor may also dimeπze with each other. For example the 167 and 186 isoforms of VEGF-B can heterodimeπze with each other

[00124] Growth factor receptor tyrosine kinases generally compnse three pπncipal domains: an extracellular domain, a transmembrane domain, and an intracellular domain. The extracellular domain binds hgands, the transmembrane domain anchors the receptor to a cell membrane, and the intracellular domain possesses one or more tyrosine kinase enzymatic domains and interacts with downstream signal transduction molecules. The vascular endothelial growth factor receptors (VEGFRs) and platelet derived growth factor receptors (PDGFRs) bind their ligand through their extracellular domains (ECDs), which are comprised of multiple immunoglobulin-like domains (Ig-domains). Ig-domains are identified herein using the designation "D#." For example "Dl " refers to the first Ig- domain of a particular receptor ECD. "D 1 -3" refers to a construct containing at least the first three Ig-domains, and intervening sequence between domains 1 and 2 and 2 and 3, of a particular construct. Table 2 defines the boundaries of the Ig-domains for VEGFR-I , VEGFR-2, and VEGFR-3 of the invention. These boundaries are significant as the boundaries chosen can be used to form constructs, and so can influence the binding properties of the resulting constructs. This relationship is discussed in Example 1.

[00125] The complete ECD of PDGFRs and VEGFRs is not required for ligand (growth factor) binding. The ECD of VEGFR-I (R-I) and VEGFR-2 (R-2) consists of seven Ig- like domains and the ECD of VEGFR-3 (R-3) has six intact Ig-like domains--D5 of R-3 is cleaved post-translationally into disulfide linked subunits leaving VEGFR-3. Veikkola, T., et al., Cancer Res. 60:203-212 (2000). In general, receptor fragments of at least the first three Ig-domains for this family are sufficient to bind ligand. The PDGFRs have five Ig- domains.

TABLE 2: IMMUNOGLOBULIN-LIKE DOMAINS FOR VEGFR-I, VEGFR-2 AND VEGFR-3

[00126] In some embodiments, a binding unit of a binding construct comprises the ECD of a growth factor receptor. A binding unit may comprise at least one Ig-domain of a VEGFR as described in Table 2, to as many as seven. Ig-domain information for PDGFR- α and PDGFR-β is provided in Lokker, et al., J. Biol. Chem. 272: 33037-33044 (1997), which is incorporated by reference in its entirety. A binding unit may include sequence before the N-terminal most Ig-domain, may include sequence beyond the C-terminal most Ig-domain, and may include sequence between the Ig-domains as well Binding units may also comprise variants, e g , with one or more amino acid substitutions, additions, or deletions of an amino acid residue Binding units also may comprise chimeras, e g , combinations of Ig-domains from different receptors hi some embodiments, the first or second polypeptide compπses a receptor fragment compπsing at least the first three Ig domains of a receptor tyrosine kinase.

[00127] The binding of a binding unit to a particular growth factor hgand refers to the ability to bind at least one natural isoform of at least one target growth factor, especially processed forms that are secreted from cells and circulate in vivo and/or bind heparin moieties For example, "capable of binding VEGF-A" refers to the ability to bind at least one isoform of VEGF-A under .physiological conditions. At least five human VEGF-A isoforms of 121 , 145, 165, 189 or 206 amino acids in length (VEGF 121 - VEGF206), encoded by distinct mRNA splice variants, have been descπbed, all of which are capable of stimulating mitogenesis in endothelial cells. [See generally, Ferrara, J MoI Med 77.527- 543 (1999).] Two VEGF-B isoforms generated by alternative mRNA splicing exist, VEGF-B 186 and VEGF-B 167, with the first isoform accounting for about 80% of the total VEGF-B transcripts [Li, X , et al., Growth Factor, 19:49-59 (2001); Gπmmond, et al , Genome Res., 6.124- 131 ( 1996); Olofsson, et al., J. Biol. Chem., 271 : 19310- 19317 (1996).] Three isoforms of PlGF produced by alternative mRNA splicing have been descπbed [Hauser, et al., Growth Factors 9:259-268 (1993); Maglione, et al., Oncogene 8:925-931 (1993)] PDGF-A and PDGF-B can homodimenze or heterodimeπze to produce three different isoforms: PDGF-AA, PDGF-AB, or PDGF-BB.

[00128] The term "identity", as known in the art, refers to a relationship between the sequences of two or more polypeptide molecules or two or more nucleic acid molecules, as determined by comparing the sequences. In the art, "identity" also means the degree of sequence relatedness nucleic acid molecules or polypeptides sequences, as the case may be, as determined by the match between stnngs of two or more nucleotide or two or more amino acid sequences "Identity" measures the percent of identical matches between the smaller of two or more sequences with gap alignments (if any) addressed by particular a mathematical model of computer program (i.e., "algorithms"). Appropπate algorithms for determining the percent identities of the invention include BLASTP and BLASTN, using the most common and accepted default parameters.

1. VEGFR-1-Deiϊved Binding Units

[OO 129] In some embodiments, a binding unit comprises a polypeptide similar or identical in amino acid sequence to a VEGFR-I polypeptide or fragment thereof, preferably from the same species as the targeted growth factor(s). Thus, for binding to human growth factors, a binding unit preferably comprises a polypeptide that comprises an amino acid similar or identical to a fragment of SEQ ID NO: 2, wherein the fragment and the polypeptide binds one or more growth factors selected from the group consisting of VEGF-A, VEGF-B, and PlGF. The fragment minimally comprises enough of the VEGFR- 1 sequence to bind the ligand, and may comprise the complete receptor. Extracellular domain fragments are preferred. Preferred polypeptides have an amino acid sequence at least 80% identical to a ligand binding fragment thereof. Fragments that are more similar, e.g., 85%, 90%, 91%, 92%, 93%, 94%, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%, 99.5%, or 100% identical are highly preferred. Fragments that are 35%, 40%, 45%, 50%, 55%, 60%, 65%, 70%, and 75% identical are also contemplated.

[00130] Preferred polypeptides may also be described as having an amino acid sequence encoded by a nucleic acid sequence at least 80% identical to a fragment of SEQ ID NO: 1 encoding a ligand binding fragment of VEGFR-I . Nucleic acid fragments that are more similar, e.g., 85%, 90%, 91%, 92%, 93%, 94%, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%, 99.5%, or 100% identical are highly preferred. Fragments that are 35%, 40%, 45%, 50%, 55%, 60%, 65%, 70%, and 75% identical are also contemplated. A genus of similar polypeptides can alternatively be defined by the ability of encoding polynucleotides to hybridize to the complement of a nucleotide sequence that corresponds to the cDNA sequence encoding the R-I receptor. For example, a preferred binding unit polypeptide comprises an amino acid sequence that binds one or more R- 1 ligands and that is encoded by a nucleotide sequence that hybridizes to the complement of SEQ ID NO: 1 under moderately or highly stringent conditions discussed herein.

[00131]- Exemplary Rl fragments for use as binding unit polypeptides (or for use as a starting point for designing R- 1 analogs) have an amino terminal residue selected from the group consisting of positions 1 to 129 of SEQ ID NO: 2, and a carboxy terminal residue selected from the group consisting of positions 229 to 758 of SEQ ID NO 2, wherein the VEGFR-I fragment binds at least one of VEGF-A, VEGF-B, and PlGF

2. VEGFR-2-Derhed Binding Units

[00132] In some embodiments, a binding unit compπses a polypeptide similar or identical in amino acid sequence to a VEGFR-2 polypeptide or fragment thereof, preferably from the same species as the targeted growth factor(s) Thus, for binding to human growth factors, a binding unit preferably compπses a polypeptide that compπses an amino acid similar or identical to a fragment of SEQ ID NO 4, wherein the fragment and the polypeptide binds one or more growth factors selected from the group consisting of VEGF-A, VEGF-C, VEGF-D, or VEGF-E The fragment minimally compπses enough of the VEGFR-2 sequence to bind the ligand, and may compπse the complete receptor Extracellular domain fragments are preferred Preferred polypeptides have an amino acid sequence at least 80% identical to a ligand binding fragment thereof Fragments that are more similar, e g , 85%, 90%, 91 %, 92%, 93%, 94%, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%, 99 5%, or 100% identical are highly preferred Fragments that are 35%, 40%, 45%, 50%, 55%, 60%, 65%, 70%, and 75% identical are also contemplated

[00133] Preferred polypeptides may also be descπbed as having an amino acid sequence encoded by a nucleic acid sequence at least 80% identical to a fragment of SEQ ID NO 3 encoding a ligand binding fragment of VEGFR-2 Nucleic acid fragments that are more similar, e g , 85%, 90%, 91 %, 92%, 93%, 94%, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%, 99 5%, or 100% identical are highly preferred Fragments that are 35%, 40%, 45%, 50%, 55%, 60%, 65%, 70%, and 75% identical are also contemplated A genus of similar polypeptides can alternatively be defined by the ability of encoding polynucleotides to hybπdize to the complement of a nucleotide sequence that corresponds to the cDNA sequence encoding the R-2 receptor For example, a preferred binding unit polypeptide compπses an amino acid sequence that binds one or more R-2 hgands and that is encoded by a nucleotide sequence that hybπdizes to the complement of SEQ ID NO 3 under moderately or highly stringent conditions discussed herein

[00134] Exemplary R2 fragments for use as binding unit polypeptides (or for use as a starting point for designing R-2 analogs) have an amino terminal residue selected from the group consisting of positions 1 to 1 18 of SEQ ID NO 4, and a carboxy terminal residue selected from the group consisting of positions 326 to 764 of SEQ ID NO 4, wherein VEGFR-2 fragment binds at least one of VEGF-A, VEGF-C, VEGF-D, and VEGF-E R2 fragments for use as binding unit polypeptides (or for use as a starting point for designing R-2 analogs) may alternate ely ha\ e an amino terminal residue selected from the group consisting of positions 1 to 192 of SEQ ID NO 4, and a carboxy terminal residue selected from the group consisting of positions 393 to 764 of SEQ ID NO 4, wherein the VEGFR-2 fragment binds at least one of VEGF-A, VEGF-C, VEGF-D, and VEGF-E Exemplary R2 fragments for use as binding unit polypeptides (or for use as a starting point for designing R-2 analogs) may also have an amino terminal residue selected from the group consisting of positions 1 to 48 of SEQ ID NO 4, and a carboxy terminal residue selected from the group consisting of positions 214 to 764 of SEQ ID NO 4, wherein the VEGFR-2 fragment binds at least one of VEGF-A, VEGF-C, VEGF-D, and VEGF-E

[00135] In some embodiments, a binding unit of the binding construct compπses a fragment of R-2, SEQ ID NO 4, selected from the group consisting of positions 24-326 (SEQ ID NO 8), 1 18-326 (SEQ ID NO 20), positions 1 18-220 (SEQ ID NO 22), positions 1 18-226 (SEQ ID NO 24), and positions 1 18-232 (SEQ ID NO 26) In some embodiments, a binding unit of the binding construct comprises a fragment of R-2, SEQ ID NO 4, selected from the group consisting of positions 106-240, positions 1 12-234, positions 1 14-220, positions 1 15-220, positions 1 16-222, positions 1 17-220, positions 1 18-221 , positions 1 18-222, positions 1 18-223, positions 1 18-224, and positions 1 18-228 In some embodiments, a binding unit of the binding construct compπses a fragment of R-2, SEQ ID NO 4, selected from the group consisting of positions 48-203, and 145-310 and 48-310 Exemplary embodiments are also discussed in Example 1

3. VEGFR-3-Derived Binding Units

[00136] In some embodiments, a binding unit compπses a polypeptide similar or identical in amino acid sequence to a VEGFR-3 polypeptide or fragment thereof, preferably from the same species as the targeted growth factor(s) Thus, for binding to human growth factors, a binding unit preferably compπses a polypeptide that compπses an amino acid similar or identical to a fragment of SEQ ID NO 6, where the fragment and the polypeptide binds one or more growth factors selected from the group consisting of VEGF- C and VEGF-D The fragment minimally compπses enough of the VEGFR-3 sequence to bind the hgand, and may compπse the complete receptor Extracellular domain fragments are preferred Preferred polypeptides have an amino acid sequence at least 80% identical to a hgand binding fragment thereof Fragments that are more similar, e g , 85%, 90%, 91 %, 92%, 93%, 94%, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%, 99 5%, or 100% identical are highly preferred Fragments that are 35%, 40%, 45%, 50%, 55%, 60%, 65%, 70%, and 75% identical are also contemplated A genus of similar polypeptides can alternatively be defined by the ability of encoding polynucleotides to hybπdize to the complement of a nucleotide sequence that corresponds to the cDNA sequence encoding the R-3 receptor

[00137] Preferred polypeptides may also be descnbed as haung an amino acid sequence encoded by a nucleic acid sequence at least 80% identical to a fragment of SEQ ID NO.5 encoding a hgand binding fragment of VEGFR-3 Nucleic acid fragments that are more similar, e g , 85%, 90%, 91 %, 92%, 93%, 94%. 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%, 99 5%, or 100% identical are highly preferred Fragments that are 35%, 40%, 45%, 50%, 55%, 60%, 65%, 70%, and 75% identical are also contemplated For example, a preferred binding unit polypeptide compπses an amino acid sequence that binds one or more R-3 hgands and that is encoded by a nucleotide sequence that hybridizes to the complement of SEQ ID NO. 5 under moderately or highly stπngent conditions discussed herein

[00138] Exemplary R-3 fragments for use as binding unit polypeptides (or for use as a starting point for designing R-3 analogs) have an amino terminal residue selected from the group consisting of positions 1 to 47 of SEQ ID NO 6, and a carboxy terminal residue selected from the group consisting of positions 226 to 775 of SEQ ID NO. 6, wherein VEGFR-3 fragment binds at least one of VEGF-C and VEGF-D

[00139] In some embodiments, a binding unit of the binding construct compπses a fragment of R-3, SEQ ID NO 6, selected from the group consisting of positions 1 -226 (SEQ ID NO 38), positions 1-229 (SEQ ID NO 36), and positions 1 -329 (SEQ ID NO: 44) In some embodiments, a binding unit of the binding construct comprises a fragment of R-3, SEQ ID NO 6, selected from the group consisting of positions 47-224, positions 47-225, positions 47-226, positions 47-227, positions 47-228, positions 47-229, positions 47-230, positions 47-231 , positions 47-232, positions 47-236, positions 47-240, and positions 47-245 In some embodiments, a binding unit of the binding construct compπses a fragment of R-3, SEQ ID NO 6, selected from the group consisting of positions 47-314, positions 47-210, and positions 47-247 Exemplary embodiments are also discussed in Example 1 4. Neuropilin-1-Deri\ed Binding Units

[00140] Ln some embodiments, a binding unit comprises a polypeptide similar or identical in amino acid sequence to a neuropilin-1 polypeptide or fragment thereof, preferably from the same species as the targeted growth factor(s) Thus, for binding to human growth factors, a binding unit preferably compπses a polypeptide that compπses an amino acid similar or identical to a fragment of SEQ ID NO 1 13, where the fragment and the polypeptide binds one or more growth factors selected from the group consisting of VEGF-A, VEGF-B, VEGF-C, VEGF-E, and PlGF The fragment minimally compπses enough of the neuropilin-1 sequence to bind the ligand, and may compπse the complete receptor Extracellular domain fragments are preferred Preferred polypeptides have an amino acid sequence at least 80% identical to a ligand binding fragment thereof Fragments that are more similar, e g , 85%, 90%, 91%, 92%, 93%, 94%, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%, 99 5%, or 100% identical are highly preferred Fragments that are 35%, 40%, 45%, 50%, 55%, 60%, 65%, 70%, and 75% identical are also contemplated

[00141 ] Preferred polypeptides may also be descπbed as hav ing an amino acid sequence encoded by a nucleic acid sequence at least 80% identical to a fragment of SEQ ID NO 1 12 encoding a ligand binding fragment of neuropilin- 1 Nucleic acid fragments that are more similar, e g , 85%, 90%. 91%, 92%, 93%, 94%, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%, 99 5%, or 100% identical are highly preferred Fragments that are 35%, 40%, 45%, 50%, 55%, 60%, 65%, 70%, and 75% identical are also contemplated A genus of similar polypeptides can alternatively be defined by the ability of encoding polynucleotides to hybridize to the complement of a nucleotide sequence that corresponds to the cDNA sequence encoding the neuropilin-1 receptor For example, a preferred binding unit polypeptide compπses an amino acid sequence that binds one or more neuropilin-1 hgands and that is encoded by a nucleotide sequence that hybπdizes to the complement of SEQ ID NO 1 12 under moderately or highly stπngent conditions discussed herein

[00142] Exemplary neuropilin-1 fragments for use as binding unit polypeptides (or for use as a starting point for designing neuropilin-1 analogs) compπse a neuropilin-1 extracellular domain amino acid sequence compπsing residues 22-856 of SEQ ID NO 1 13, or a portion thereof, wherein the neuropilin-1 fragment and the binding unit bind at least one growth factor selected from the group consisting of VEGF-A, VEGF-B, VEGF- C, VEGF-E, and PlGF 5. Neuropilin-2-Derived Binding Units

[00143] In some embodiments, a binding unit comprises a polypeptide similar or identical in amino acid sequence to a neuropilin-2 polypeptide or fragment thereof, preferably from the same species as the targeted growth factor(s). Thus, for binding to human growth factors, a binding unit preferably comprises a polypeptide that comprises an amino acid similar or identical to a fragment of SEQ ID NO: 1 15, wherein the fragment and the polypeptide binds one or more growth factors selected from the group consisting of VEGF-A, VEGF-C, and PlGF. The fragment minimally comprises enough of the neuropilin-2 sequence to bind the ligand, and may comprise the complete receptor. Extracellular domain fragments are preferred. Preferred polypeptides have an amino acid sequence at least 80% identical to a ligand binding fragment thereof. Fragments that are more similar, e.g., 85%, 90%, 91 %, 92%, 93%, 94%, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%, 99.5%, or 100% identical are highly preferred. Fragments that are 35%, 40%, 45%, 50%, 55%, 60%, 65%, 70%, and 75% identical are also contemplated.

[00144] Preferred polypeptides may also be described as having an amino acid sequence encoded by a nucleic acid sequence at least 80% identical to a fragment of SEQ ID NO: 1 14 encoding a ligand binding fragment of neuropilin-2. Nucleic acid fragments that are more similar, e.g., 85%, 90%, 91%, 92%, 93%, 94%, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%, 99.5%, or 100% identical are highly preferred. Fragments that are 35%, 40%, 45%, 50%, 55%, 60%, 65%, 70%, and 75% identical are also contemplated. A genus of similar polypeptides can alternatively be defined by the ability of encoding polynucleotides to hybridize to the complement of a nucleotide sequence that corresponds to the cDNA sequence encoding the neuropilin-2 receptor. For example, a preferred binding unit polypeptide comprises an amino acid sequence that binds one or more neuropilin-2 ligands and that is encoded by a nucleotide sequence that hybridizes to the complement of SEQ ID NO: 1 14 under moderately or highly stringent conditions discussed herein.

[00145] Exemplary neuropilin-2 fragments for use as binding unit polypeptides comprising residues 21 -864 of SEQ ID NO: 1 15, or a portion thereof; wherein the neuropilin-2 fragment and the binding unit bind at least one growth factor selected from the group consisting of VEGF-A, VEGF-C, and PlGF. [00146] Further neuropilin- 1 and -2 species, isoforms, soluble fragments, etc , are prouded in WO03/029814, U S Appls 10/262,538. 10/669.176, and 60/505,607. w hich are incorporated by reference in their entireties

6. PDGFR-Alpha-Derived Binding Units [00147] In some embodiments, a binding unit compπses a polypeptide similar or identical in amino acid sequence to a PDGFR-α polypeptide or fragment thereof, preferably from the same species as the targeted growth factor(s) Thus, for binding to human growth factors, a binding unit preferably compπses a polypeptide that compnses an amino acid similar or identical to a fragment of SEQ ID NO 1 17, where the fragment and the polypeptide binds one or more growth factors selected from the group consisting of PDGF-A, PDGF-B. and PDGF-C The fragment minimally compπses enough of the PDGFR-α sequence to bind the hgand, and may compπse the complete receptor Extracellular domain fragments are preferred Preferred polypeptides have an amino acid sequence at least 80% identical to a hgand binding fragment thereof Fragments that are more similar, e g , 85%, 90%, 91 %, 92%, 93%, 94%, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%. 99 5%, or 100% identical are highly preferred Fragments that are 35%, 40%. 45%, 50%, 55%, 60%, 65%. 70%, and 75% identical are also contemplated A genus of similar polypeptides can alternatively be defined by the ability of encoding polynucleotides to hybπdize to the complement of a nucleotide sequence that corresponds to the cDNA sequence encoding the R-α receptor

[00148] Preferred polypeptides may also be descπbed as having an amino acid sequence encoded by a nucleic acid sequence at least 80% identical to a fragment of SEQ ID NO 1 16 encoding a hgand binding fragment of R-α Nucleic acid fragments that are more similar, e g , 85%, 90%, 91%, 92%, 93%, 94%, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%, 99 5%, or 100% identical are highly preferred Fragments that are 35%, 40%, 45%, 50%, 55%, 60%, 65%, 70%, and 75% identical are also contemplated For example, a preferred binding unit polypeptide compπses an amino acid sequence that binds one or more R-α hgands and that is encoded by a nucleotide sequence that hybπdizes to the complement of SEQ ID NO 1 16 under moderately or highly stπngent conditions discussed herein

[00149] Exemplary R-α fragments for use as binding unit polypeptides (or for use as a starting point for designing R-α analogs) have an amino terminal residue selected from the group consisting of positions 1 to 123 of SEQ ID NO. 1 17, and a carboxy terminal residue selected from the group consisting of positions 313 to 524 of SEQ ID NO 1 17, wherein the PDGFR-α fragment binds at least one of PDGF-A, PDGF-B, and PDGF-C

7. PDGFR-Beta-Derived Binding Units

[00150] In some embodiments, a binding unit compπses a polypeptide similar or identical in amino acid sequence to a R-β polypeptide or fragment thereof, preferably from the same species as the targeted growth factor(s) Thus, for binding to human growth factors, a binding unit preferably compπses a polypeptide that composes an amino acid similar or identical to a fragment of SEQ ID NO 1 19, where the fragment and the polypeptide binds one or more growth factors selected from the group consisting of PDGF- B and PDGF-D The fragment minimally compπses enough of the PDGFR-β sequence to bind the hgand, and may compπse the complete receptor Extracellular domain fragments are preferred Preferred polypeptides have an amino acid sequence at least 80% identical to a hgand binding fragment thereof Fragments that are more similar, e g , 85%, 90%, 91%, 92%, 93%, 94%, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%, 99 5%, or 100% identical are highly preferred Fragments that are 35%, 40%, 45%, 50%, 55%, 60%, 65%, 70%, and 75% identical are also contemplated A genus of similar polypeptides can alternatively be defined by the ability of encoding polynucleotides to hybπdize to the complement of a nucleotide sequence that corresponds to the cDNA sequence encoding the R-β receptor

[00151 ] Preferred polypeptides may also be descπbed as having an amino acid sequence encoded by a nucleic acid sequence at least 80% identical to a fragment of SEQ ID NO: 1 18 encoding a hgand binding fragment of PDGFR-β Nucleic acid fragments that are more similar, e g , 85%, 90%, 91 %, 92%, 93%, 94%, 95%, 96%, 97%, 98%, 99%, 99 5%, or 100% identical are highly preferred Fragments that are 35%, 40%, 45%, 50%, 55%, 60%, 65%, 70%, and 75% identical are also contemplated For example, a preferred binding unit polypeptide compπses an amino acid sequence that binds one or more R-β ligands and that is encoded by a nucleotide sequence that hybπdizes to the complement of SEQ ID NO 1 18 under moderately or highly stπngent conditions discussed herein

[00152] Exemplary R-β fragments for use as binding unit polypeptides (or for use as a starting point for designing R-β analogs) have an amino terminal residue selected from the group consisting of positions 1 to 124 of SEQ ID NO: 1 19, and a carboxy terminal residue selected from the group consisting of positions 314 to 531 of SEQ ID NO. 1 19, wherein PDGFR-β fragment binds at least one of PDGF-B and PDGF-D. 8. Other Binding Units

[00153] Although a binding unit may compπse a polypeptide similar or identical to an extracellular domain fragment of a growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase, other binding units are contemplated as well In some embodiments, the binding unit is generated using phage display In some embodiments, the binding unit comprises an antibody In some embodiments, a binding unit compπses a polypeptide comprising an antibody (antigen binding) fragment, e g , a domain antibody Binding units, as well as binding constructs, need not compπse a polypeptide In some embodiments, the binding construct compπses nucleic acid, e g , DNA or RNA, such as an aptamer In some embodiments, the binding construct compπses polysacchaπdes

[00154] Growth factor binding molecules that have been descπbed in the literature may be used as binding units to construct binding constructs of the inventory including molecules taught by the following- Veikkola, T , et al , Cancer Res 60:203-212 (2000), Davis-Smyth, T., et al , EMBO J , 15(18) 4919-27 (1996), U.S. Pat. Nos 5,952,199; 6, 100,071 , 6,383,486; U. S Pat. Appl Nos 20030092604; Niwa, et al , U.S. Pat. No.

6,348,333; Fairbrother, et al , Biochemistry, 37.17754-64 (1998); Starovasnik, M et al , J MoI Biol , 293: 531 -44 (1999), Wiesmann, C, et al , Cell, 91 .695-704 (1997), Fuh, et al , J Biol Chem , 273(18): 1 1 197-1 1204 (1998); Shinkai, A. et al , J Biol Chem , 273(47):31283-88 (1998); Lu, et al , J Biol Chem , 275(19): 14321-14330 (2000); Lu et al , J Immunological Methods, 230: 159-71 (1999); Lu, et al , J Biol Chem , 278(44)'

43496-43507 (2003); Makkinen, T., et al , Nature Medicine, 7(2), 199-205 (2001 ); Alitalo, et al , WO 02/060950; Karpanen, T., et al , Cancer Research 61 : 1786-90 (2001 ); Liu, et al , U.S. Pat. Appl. Publ. No. 2003/0064053; Kubo, H., et al , Blood, 96(2): 546-553 (2000); Rosen, Hematol Oncol Clin N Am., 16: 1 173-1 187 (2002); Kaplan, et al., Growth Factors, 14:243-256 (1997); Thomas, et al , U.S. Pat. No. 6,375,929; Kendall and Thomas, PNAS1 US A., 90: 10705-10709 (1993); Kovesdi, U.S. Pat. Appl. Publ. No. 2003/0053989; Daly, et al., U.S. Pat. Appl. Publ. No.: 2004/0014667; and Lokker, et al., J. Biol. Chem. 272: 33037-33044 (1997). These and other documents cited in this application are incorporated in their entireties. Molecules that have not previously been tested for their ability to bind to a particular growth factor may tested according to the assays provided herein. For example, some of the above documents teach a R-2 fragment that binds VEGF-A. That same molecule may be tested for its ability to bind VEGF-C. [00155] Except as otherwise noted, descnptions supplied for receptors, also apply to receptor fragments and such fragments incorporated into binding constructs as descnbed herein

[00156] The growth factor receptors, from which binding units may be derned, include splice vaπants and naturally-occurring allelic variations Allelic variants are well known in the art, and represent alternative forms or a nucleic acid sequence that compπse substitution, deletion or addition of one or more nucleotides, but which do not result in any substantial functional alteration of the encoded polypeptide Standard methods can readily be used to generate such polypeptides including site-directed mutagenesis of polynucleotides, or specific enzymatic cleavage and ligation Similarly, use of peptidomimetic compounds or compounds in which one or more amino acid residues are replaced by a non-natural ly-occurπng amino acid or an amino acid analog that retain binding activity is contemplated Preferably, where amino acid substitution is used, the substitution is conservative, i e an amino acid is replaced by one of similar size and with similar charge properties As used herein, the term "conservative substitution" denotes the replacement of an amino acid residue by another, biologically similar residue Examples of conservative substitutions include the substitution of one hydrophobic residue such as isoleucine, valine, leucine, alanine, cysteine, glycine, phenylalanine, proline, tryptophan, tyrosine, norleucine or methionine for another, or the substitution of one polar residue for another, such as the substitution of arginine for lysine, glutamic acid for aspartic acid, or glutamine for asparagine, and the like Neutral hydrophilic amino acids that can be substituted for one another include asparagine, glutamine, seπne and threonine The term "conservative substitution" also includes the use of a substituted amino acid in place of an unsubstituted amino acid

[00157] Alternatively, conservative amino acids can be grouped as descnbed in Lehninger, (Biochemistry, Second Edition, Worth Publishers, Inc. NY NY, pp. 71 -77 (1975)) as set out in the following

Non-polar (hydrophobic)

A Aliphatic A, L, I, V, P, B Aromatic. F, W,

C. Sulfur-containing M, D Borderline G Uncharged-polar

A Hydroxyl S, T, Y,

B Amides N, Q, C Sulfhydryl C,

D Borderline G

Positn ely Charged (Basic) K, R, H Negativel> Charged (Acidic) D, E B. Linkers [00158] Wliile binding units may be directly attached to one another (via a peptide, disulfide or other type of covalent bond), the binding constructs of the present invention may further compπse a (one or more) linker that connects together two or more different binding units, e g , a receptor fragments with another receptor fragment, or even a copy of itself A linker may also link a binding unit to other substituents described herein The linker is generally a heterologous protein polypeptide In some embodiments, the linker compπses a peptide that links the binding units to form a single continuous peptide that can be expressed as a single molecule Linkers may be chosen such that they are less likely to induce an allergic reaction Polysacchaπdes or other moieties also may be used to link binding units to form a binding construct

[00159] More than one linker may be used per binding construct The linker may be selected for optimal conformational (steπc) freedom between the various ligand binding units to allow them to interact with each other if desired, e g , to form dimers, or to allow them to interact with ligand The linker may be linear such that consecutive binding units are linked in seπes, or the linker may serve as a scaffold to which vaπous binding units are attached, e g , a branched linker A linker may also have multiple branches, e g , as disclosed in Tarn, J Immunol Methods 196 17 (1996) Binding units may be attached to each other or to the linker scaffold via N-terminal amino groups, C-terminal carboxyl groups, side chains, chemically modified groups, side chains, or other means

[00160] Linker peptides may be designed to have sequences that permit desired characteristics For example, the use of glycyl residues allow for a relatively large degree of conformational freedom, whereas a proline would tend to have the opposite effect. Peptide linkers may be chosen so that they achieve particular secondary and tertiary structures, e.g., alpha helices, beta sheets or beta barrels. Quaternary structure can also be utilized to create linkers that join two binding units together non-covalently. For example, fusing a protein domain with a hydrophobic face to each binding unit may permit the joining of the two binding units via the interaction between the hydrophobic interaction of the two molecules. In some embodiments, the linker may provide for polar interactions. For example, a leucine zipper domain of the proto-oncoproteins Myc and Max, respectively, may be used. Luscher and Larsson, Ongogene 18:2955-2966 (1999). In some embodiments, the linker allows for the formation of a salt bridge or disulfide bond. Linkers may comprise non-naturally occurring amino acids, as well as naturally occurring amino acids that are not naturally incorporated into a polypeptide. In some embodiments, the linker comprises a coordination complex between a metal or other ion and various residues from the multiple peptides joined thereby.

[00161 ] Linear peptide linkers of at least one amino acid residue are contemplated. In some embodiments the linker has more than 10,000 residues. In some embodiments the linker has from 1 - 10,000 residues. In some embodiments, the linker has from 1 -1000 residues. In some embodiments, the linker has from 1 - 100 residues. In some embodiments, the linker has from 1 -50 residues. In some embodiments the linker has 1 -10 residues. In some embodiments, the linear peptide linker comprises residues with relatively inert side chains. Peptide linker amino acid residues need not be linked entirely or at all via alpha-carboxy and alpha-amino groups. That is, peptides may be linked via side chain groups of various residues.

[00162] The linker may affect whether the polypeptide(s) to which it is fused to is able to dimerize to each other or to another polypeptide. The linker serves a number of functions. Native receptor monomers restrained to the roughly two-dimensional plane of the cell membrane enjoy a relatively high local concentration and in the availability of co-receptors (binding units), increasing the probability of finding a partner. Receptors free in solution lacking such advantages may be aided by a linker that increases the effective concentration of the monomers.

[00163] In some embodiments, a binding construct may comprise more than one type of linker. Suitable linkers may also comprise the chemical modifications discussed below. C. Substituents And Other Chemical Modifications

[00164] The binding constructs of the in\ ention may be chemicall> modified with various substituents Such modifications preferably does not substantially reduce the growth factor binding affinities or specificities of the binding construct Rather, the chemical modifications impart additional desirable characteristics as discussed herein Chemical modifications may take a number of different forms such as heterologous peptides, polysacchaπdes, lipids, radioisotopes, non-standard amino acid resides and nucleic acids, metal chelates, and various toxins

[00165] The receptor fragments, binding constructs, and other peptide molecules of the present invention may be fused to heterologous peptides to confer various properties, e g , increased solubility, modulation of clearance, targeting to particular cell or tissue types In some embodiments, the receptor fragment is linked to a Fc domain of IgG or other immunoglobulin In some embodiments, a receptor fragment is fused to alkaline phosphatase (AP) Methods for making Fc or AP fusion constructs are found in WO 02/060950 By fusing the hgand binding domain of VEGFR-2 or VEGFR-3 (or other receptors) with protein domains that have specific properties (e g half life, bioavailability, interaction partners) it is possible to confer these properties to the VEGFR binding domains (e g , the receptor binding domain could be engineered to have a specific tissue distribution or specific biological half life) In some embodiments, binding construct may include a co-receptor and a VEGFR fragment

[00166] The particular heterologous polypeptide used in a particular construct can influence whether or not a growth factor receptor fragment will dimeπze, which in turn may affect hgand binding Fc fusion all may permit dimers, whereas AP fusions may permit monomers, cited, which along with Ig-domain boundary differences as possible reasons for different results obtained by different groups for recep.tor fragments binging to hgands [Lu, et al , J Biol Chem 275(19) 14321-14330 (2000) ]

[00167] For substituents such as an Fc region of human IgG, the fusion can be fused directly to a binding construct or fused through an intervening sequence For example, a human IgG hinge, CH2 and CH3 region may be fused at either the N-terminus or C- terminus of a binding construct to attach the Fc region The resulting Fc-fusion construct enables purification via a Protein A affinity column (Pierce, Rockford, 111 ) Peptide and proteins fused to an Fc region can exhibit a substantially greater half-life in vivo than the unfused counterpart A fusion to an Fc region allow s for dimeπzation/multimeπzation of the fusion polypeptide The Fc region ma> be a naturalh occurring Fc region, or may be modified for supeπor characteristics, e g , therapeutic qualities, circulation time, reduced aggregation

[00168] Polypeptides can be modified, for instance by glycosylation, amidation, carboxylation, or phosphorylation, or by the creation of acid addition salts, amides, esters, in particular C-terminal esters, and N-acyl ati\ es The proteins also can be modified to create peptide deπvatn es by forming cov alent or noncovalent complexes with other moieties Covalently bound complexes can be prepared by linking the chemical moieties to functional groups on the side chains of amino acids comprising the peptides, or at the N- or C-terminus

[00169] Polypeptides can be conjugated to a reporter group, including, but not limited to a radiolabel, a fluorescent label, an enzyme (e g , that catalyzes a caloπmetπc or fluorometnc reaction), a substrate, a solid matπx, or a earner (e g , biotin or a\ idin) Examples of analogs are described in WO 98/28621 and in Olofsson, et a! , Pi oc Nat'l Acad Sa USA, 95 1 1709-1 1714 (1998), U S Patent Nos 5,512,545, and 5,474,982, U S Patent Application Nos 20020164687 and 20020164710

[00170] Cysteinyl residues most commonly are reacted with haloacetates (and corresponding amines), such as chloroacetic acid or chJoroacetamide, to give carboxymethyl or carbocyamidomethyl deπvatives Cysteinyl residues also are deπvatized by reaction with bromotπfluoroacetone, α-bromo-β(5-imidozoyl)propionic acid, chloroacetyl phosphate, N-alkylmaleimιdes, 3-mtro-2-pyπdyl disulfide, methyl 2-pyπdyl disulfide, p-chloromercuπbenzoate, 2-chloromercuπ-4-nitrophenol, orchloro-7-nitrobenzo- 2-oxa-l,3-diazole

[00171 ] Histidyl residues are deπvatized by reaction with diethylprocarbonate at pH 5 5- 7 0 because this agent is relatively specific for the histidyl side chain Para-bromophenacyl bromide also is useful, the reaction is preferably performed in 0 IM sodium cacodylate at pH 6 0

[00172] Lysinyl and amino terminal residues are reacted with succinic or carboxyhc acid anhydrides Deπvatization with these agents has the effect of reversing the charge of the lysinyl residues Other suitable reagents for deπvatizing α-amino-containing residues include imidoesters such as methyl picohnimidate, pyπdoxal phosphate, pyndoxal, chloroborohydπde, tπnitrobenzenesulfonic acid, O-methylissurea 2,4 pentanedione, and transaminase catalyzed reaction w ith glvo\ylate

[00173] Arginyl residues are modified by reaction w ith one or se\ eral conv entional reagents, among them phenylglyoxal, 2,3-butanedione, 1 ,2-cyclohexanedione, and runhydπn Deπvatization of arginine residues requires that the reaction be performed in alkaline conditions because of the high pK. of the guanidine functional group Furthermore, these reagents may react with the groups of lysine as well as the arginine epsilon-amino group

[00174] The specific modification of tyrosyl residues per se has been studied extensiv ely, with particular interest in introducing spectral labels into tyrosyl residues by reaction with aromatic diazonium compounds or tetranitromethane Most commonly, N-acetylimidizol and tetranitromethane are used to form O-acetyl tyrosyl species and 3-nitro derivatives, respectively Tyrosyl residues are iodinated using 1251 or 1311 to prepare labeled proteins for use in radioimmunoassay

[00175] Carboxyl side groups (aspartyl or glutamyl) are selectively modified by reaction with carbodiimides (Rl ) such as l-cyclohexyl-3-(2-morpholinyl-(4-ethyl) carbodiimide or l -ethyl-3 (4 azonia 4,4-dimethylpentyl)carbodiimide Furthermore, aspartyl and glutamyl residues are converted to asparaginyl and glutaminyl residues by reaction with ammonium ions

[00176] Deπvatization with bifunctional agents is useful for crosslinking the binding construct to water-insoluble support matπxes Such deπvation may also provide the linker that may connect adjacent binding elements in a binding construct, or a binding elements to a heterologous peptide, e g , a Fc fragment Commonly used crosslinking agents include, e g , 1 , 1 -bis(diazoacetyl)-2-phenylethane, glutaraldehyde, N-hydroxysuccinimide esters, for example, esters with 4-azidosalicylic acid, homo-bifunctional imidoesters, including disuccinimidyl esters such as 3,3'-dithnobis(succinimidylpropioonate), and bifunctional maleimides such as bis-N-maleimido-l ,8-octane Deπvatizing agents such as methyl-3- [(p-azidophenyl) dithio] propioimidate yield photoactivatable intermediates that are capable of forming cross links in the presence of light Alternatively, reactive water- insoluble matπces such as cyanogen bromide-activated carbohydrates and the reactive substrates descπbed in U S Pat Nos 3,969,287, 3,691 ,016, 4, 195, 128, 4,247,642, 4,229,537, and 4,330,440, incorporated herein by reference, are employed for protein immobilization

[00177] Glutaminyl and asparaginyl residues are frequently deamidated to the corresponding glutamyl and aspartyl residues Alternatively, these residues are deamidated under mildly acidic conditions Either form of these residues falls w ithin the scope of this imention

[00178] Other modifications include hydroxylation of proline and lysine, phosphorylation of hydroxyl groups of ser> l or threonyl residues, methylation of the α- amino groups of lysine, arginine, and histidine side chains (T E Creighton, Proteins

Structure and Molecule Properties, W H Freeman & Co , San Francisco, pp 79-86, 1983), acetylation of the N-terminal amine, and, in some instances, amidation of the C-terminal carboxyl groups Such deπvatives are chemically modified polypeptide compositions in which the binding construct polypeptide is linked to a polymer The polymer selected is typically water soluble so that the protein to which it is attached does not precipitate in an aqueous environment, such as a physiological environment The polymer selected is usually modified to have a single reacti\ e group, such as an active ester for acylation or an aldehyde for alkylation, so that the degree of polymerization may be controlled as provided for in the present methods The polymer may be of any molecular weight, and may be branched or unbranched Included within the scope of the binding construct polypeptide polymers is a mixture of polymers Preferably, for therapeutic use of the end-product preparation, the polymer will be pharmaceutically acceptable

[00179] The polymers each may be of any molecular weight and may be branched or unbranched. The polymers each typically have an average molecular weight of between about 2 kDa to about 100 kDa (the term "about" indicating that in preparations of a water soluble polymer, some molecules will weigh more, some less, than the stated molecular weight) The average molecular weight of each polymer is between about 5 kDa and about 50 kDa, more preferably between about 12 kDa to about 40 kDa and most preferably between about 20 kDa to about 35 kDa

[00180] Suitable water soluble polymers or mixtures thereof include, but are not limited to, N-linked or O-linked carbohydrates, sugars, phosphates, carbohydrates, sugars, phosphates, polyethylene glycol (PEG) (including the forms of PEG that ha\ e been used to dern atize proteins, including mono-(Cl -Cl O) alkoxy- or aryloxy-pol\eth> lene glycol), monomethoxy-polyethylene glycol, dextran (such as low molecular w eight dextran, of, for example about 6 IcD), cellulose, cellulose, other carbohydrate-based polymers, poly-(N- \ inyl pyrrolidone)polyethylene glycol, propylene glycol homopolymers, a polypropylene oxide/ethylene oxide co-polymer, polyoxyethylated polyols (e g , glycerol) and polyvinyl alcohol Also encompassed by the present invention are bifunctional crosslinking molecules which may be used to prepare covalently attached multimers

[00181 ] In general, chemical deπvatization may be performed under any suitable condition used to react a protein with an activated polymer molecule Methods for prepaπng chemical derivatives of polypeptides will generally comprise the steps of (a) reacting the polypeptide with the activated polymer molecule (such as a reactiv e ester or aldehyde deπvative of the polymer molecule) under conditions whereby the binding construct becomes attached to one or more polymer molecules, and (b) obtaining the reaction product(s) The optimal reaction conditions will be determined based on known parameters and the desired result For example, the larger the ratio of polymer molecules protein, the greater the amount of attached polymer molecule In one embodiment, the binding construct polypeptide deπv ative may have a single polymer molecule moiety at the amino terminus {See, e g , U S Pat No 5,234,784)

[00182] A particularly preferred water-soluble polymer for use herein is polyethylene glycol (PEG) As used herein, polyethylene glycol is meant to encompass any of the forms of PEG that can be used to deπvatize other proteins, such as mono-(Cl-ClO) alkoxy- or aryloxy-polyethylene glycol PEG is a linear or branched neutral polyether, available in a broad range of molecular weights, and is soluble in water and most organic solvents PEG is effective at excluding other polymers or peptides when present in water, pnmaπly through its high dynamic chain mobility and hydrophibic nature, thus creating a water shell or hydration sphere when attached to other proteins or polymer surfaces PEG is nontoxic, non-immunogenic, and approved by the Food and Drug Administration for internal consumption

[00183] Proteins or enzymes when conjugated to PEG have demonstrated bioactivity, non-antigenic properties, and decreased clearance rates when administered in animals F M Veronese et al , Preparation and Properties of Monomethoxypoly(ethylene glycol)- modified Enzymes for Therapeutic Applications, in J. M. Harris ed., Poly( Ethylene Glycol) Chemistry—Biotechnical and Biomedical Applications, 127-36, 1992, incorporated herein by reference. These phenomena are due to the exclusion properties of PEG in preventing recognition by the immune system. In addition, PEG has been widely used in surface modification procedures to decrease protein adsorption and improve blood compatibility. S. W. Kim et ai, Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci. 516: 1 16-30 1987; Jacobs et al., Artif. Organs 12: 500-501 , 1988; Park et ai, J. Poly. Sci, Part A 29: 1725-31 , 1991 , incorporated herein by reference. Hydrophobic polymer surfaces, such as polyurethanes and polystyrene can be modified by the grafting of PEG (MW 3,400) and employed as nonthrombogenic surfaces. Surface properties (contact angle) can be more consistent with hydrophilic surfaces, due to the hydrating effect of PEG. More importantly, protein (albumin and other plasma proteins) adsorption can be greatly reduced, resulting from the high chain motility, hydration sphere, and protein exclusion properties of PEG.

[00184] PEG (MW 3,400) was determined as an optimal size in surface immobilization studies, Park et al., J. Biomed. Mat. Res. 26:739-45, 1992, while PEG (MW 5,000) was most beneficial in decreasing protein antigenicity. (F. M. Veronese et al., In J. M. Harris, et al., Poly (Ethylene Glycol) Chemistry—Biotechnical and Biomedical Applications, 127-36.)

[00185] Methods for preparing pegylated binding construct polypeptides will generally comprise the steps of (a) reacting the polypeptide with polyethylene glycol (such as a reactive ester or aldehyde derivative of PEG) under conditions whereby the binding construct polypeptide becomes attached to one or more PEG groups, and (b) obtaining the reaction product(s). In general, the optimal reaction conditions for the acylation reactions will be determined based on known parameters and the desired result. For example, the larger the ratio of PEG: protein, the greater the percentage of poly-pegylated product. In some embodiments, the binding construct will have a single PEG moiety at the N-terminus. See U.S. Pat. No. 8,234,784, herein incorporated by reference.

[00186] Deri vatized' binding constructs disclosed herein may have additional activities, enhanced or reduced biological activity, or other characteristics, such as increased or decreased half-life, as compared to the non-derivatized molecules. II. POLYNUCLEOTIDES ENCODING BINDING CONSTRUCTS AND EXPRESSION SYSTEMS

[00187] The invention comprises not only the binding constructs, binding units, and polypeptides described herein, and uses thereof, but also nucleic acids encoding such molecules, vectors comprising such molecules, and host cells comprising such vectors, and uses thereof. Methods employing any of the constructs, units, polypeptides, nucleic acids, vectors, and hosts cells for the therapeutic uses described herein are all considered aspects of the invention.

A. Nucleic Acids of the Invention [00188] This invention also includes nucleic acid molecules whose sequence encode the polypeptides, binding units, and binding constructs, for use in compositions and methods of the invention. Nucleic acid molecules include those molecules which comprise nucleotide sequences which hybridize under moderately or highly stringent conditions as defined herein with the fully complementary sequence of the nucleic acid molecule of receptor tyrosine kinases described in Table I A, or of a molecule encoding a polypeptide, which polypeptide comprises the receptor tyrosine kinase amino acids sequences described in Table IA, or of a nucleic acid fragment as defined herein, or of a nucleic acid fragment encoding a polypeptide as defined herein.

[00189] Hybridization probes may be prepared using the sequences provided herein to screen cDNA, genomic or synthetic DNA libraries for related sequences. Regions of the DNA and/or amino acid sequence that exhibit significant identity to known sequences are readily determined using sequence alignment algorithms as described herein, and those regions may be used to design probes for screening.

[00190] The term "highly stringent conditions" refers to those conditions that are designed to permit hybridization of DNA strands whose sequences are highly complementary, and to exclude hybridization of significantly mismatched DNAs. Hybridization stringency is principally determined by temperature, ionic strength, and the concentration of denaturing agents such as formamide. Examples of "highly stringent conditions" for hybridization and washing are 0.015 M sodium chloride, 0.0015 M sodium citrate at 65-680C or 0.015 M sodium chloride, 0.0015 M sodium citrate, and 50% formamide at 420C. See Sambrook, Fritsch & Maniatis, Molecular Cloning: A Laboratory Manual, 2nd Ed., Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, (Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y. 1989); and Anderson et al , Nucleic Acid Hybridization a Practical approach, Ch 4, IRL Press Limited (Oxford, England) Limited, Oxford, England Other agents may be included in the hybridization and washing buffers for the purpose of reducing non-specific and/or background hybridization Examples are 0 1% bovine serum albumin, 0 1% poly\ in\l- pyrrolidone, 0 1 % sodium pyrophosphate, 0 l°ό sodium dodecylsulfate (NaDodSθ4 θr SDS), ficoll, Denhardt's solution, sonicated salmon sperm DNA (or another non- complementary DNA), and dextran sulfate, although other suitable agents can also be used The concentration and types of these additives can be changed without substantially affecting the stπngency of the hybridization conditions Hybridization experiments are usually earned out at pH 6 8-7 4,6 8-7 4, however, at typical ionic strength conditions, the rate of hybridization is nearly independent of pH See Anderson et al , Nucleic Acid Hybridization a Practical Approach, Ch 4, IRL Press Limited (Oxford, England)

[00191 ] Factors affecting the stability of a DNA duplex include base composition, length, and degree of base pair mismatch Hybridization conditions can be adjusted by one skilled in the art in order to accommodate these vaπables and allow DNAs of different sequence relatedness to form hybrids The melting temperature of a perfectly matched DNA duplex can be estimated by the following equation

[00192]

Tm(°C) = 81 5 + 16 6(1Og[Na+]) + 0 41(%G+C) - 600/N - 0 72(%formamide) [00193]

where N is the length of the duplex formed, [Na+] is the molar concentration of the sodium ion in the hybridization or washing solution, %G+C is the percentage of (guanine+cytosine) bases in the hybπd For imperfectly matched hybnds, the melting temperature is reduced by approximately I0C for each 1% mismatch. [00194] The term "moderately" stπngent conditions"" refers to conditions under which a DNA duplex with a greater degree of base pair mismatching than could occur under "highly stπngent conditions" is able to form Examples of typical "moderately stπngent conditions" are 0 015 M sodium chloπde, 0 0015 M sodium citrate at 5O-65°C or 0 015 M sodium chloπde, 0 0015 M sodium citrate, and 20% formamide at 37-5O0C By w ay of example, a "moderately stπngent" condition of 500C in 0 015 M sodium ion will allow about a 21 % mismatch [00195] It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that there is no absolute distinction between "highl> " and "moderately stringent conditions For example, at 0 015M sodium ion (no formamide), the melting temperature of perfectly matched long DNA is about 710C With a wash at 650C (at the same ionic strength), this would allow for approximately a 6% mismatch To capture more distantly related sequences, one skilled in the art can simply lower the temperature or raise the ionic strength

[00196] A good estimate of the melting temperature in I M NaCl* for oligonucleotide probes up to about 20nt is gn en by

[00197] Tm = 20C per A-T base pair + 4°C per G-C base pair

[00198] *The sodium ion concentration in 6x salt sodium citrate (SSC) is 1 M See Suggs et al , De\ elopmental Biology Using Puπfied Genes, p 683, Brown and Fox (eds ) ( 1981)

[00199] High stπngency washing conditions for oligonucleotides are usually at a temperature of 0-50C below the Tm of the oligonucleotide in 6x SSC, 0 1 % SDS

[00200] Differences in the nucleic acid sequence may result in conservative and/or non- conservative modifications of the amino acid sequence relative to the amino acid sequence The invention is also directed to an isolated and/or puπfied DNA that corresponds to, or that hybπdizes under stπngent conditions with, any one of the foregoing DNA sequences

B. Preparation of DNA Encoding Ligand, Receptor, and Binding Construct Polypeptides

[00201] A nucleic acid molecule encoding all or part of a polypeptide of the invention such as a binding construct or binding unit of the invention can be made in a vaπety of ways, including, without limitation, chemical synthesis, cDNA or genomic library screening, expression library screening, and/or PCR amplification of cDNA or genomic DNA These methods and others useful for isolating such DNA are set forth, for example, by Sambrook, et al , "Molecular Cloning A Laboratory Manual," Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, Cold Spπng Harbor, N Y (1989), by Ausubel, et al . eds . "Current Protocols In Molecular Biology," Current Protocols Press (1994), and by Berger and Kimmel, "Methods In Enzymology Guide To Molecular Cloning Techniques," vol 152, Academic Press, Inc., San Diego, Calif. (1987). Preferred nucleic acid sequences are mammalian sequences, such as human, rat, and mouse.

[00202] Chemical synthesis of nucleic acid molecules can be accomplished using methods well known in the art, such as those set forth by Engels, et al, Angew. Chem. Intl. Ed., 28:716-734 (1989). These methods include, inter alia, the phosphotriester, phosphoramidite and H-phosphonate methods of nucleic acid synthesis. Nucleic acids larger than about 100 nucleotides in length can be synthesized as several fragments, each fragment being up to about 100 nucleotides in length. The fragments can then be ligated together, as described below, to form the full length nucleic acid of interest. A preferred method is polymer-supported synthesis using standard phosphoramidite chemistry.

C. Preparation of a Vector for Expression

[00203] The term "vector" refers to a nucleic acid molecule amplification, replication, and/or expression vehicle, often derived from or in the form of a plasmid or viral DNA or RNA system, where the plasmid or viral DNA or RNA is functional in a selected host cell, such as bacterial, yeast, plant, invertebrate, and/or mammalian host cells. The vector may remain independent of host cell genomic DNA or may integrate in whole or in part with the genomic DNA. The vector will contain all necessary elements so as to be functional in any host cell it is compatible with. Such elements are set forth below.

[00204] Nucleic acid encoding a polypeptide or fragment thereof has been isolated, it is preferably inserted into an amplification and/or expression vector in order to increase the copy number of the gene and/or to express the encoded polypeptide in a suitable host cell and/or to transform cells in a target organism (to express the polypeptide in vivo). Numerous commercially available vectors are suitable, though "custom made" vectors may be used as well. The vector is selected to be functional in a particular host cell or host tissue {i.e., for replication and/or expression). The polypeptide or fragment thereof may be amplified/expressed in prokaryotic and/or eukaryotic host cells, e.g,, yeast, insect (baculovirus systems), plant, and mammalian cells. Selection of the host cell will depend at least in part on whether the polypeptide or fragment thereof is to be glycosylated. If so, yeast, insect, or mammalian host cells are preferable; yeast and mammalian cells will glycosylate the polypeptide if a glycosylation site is present on the amino acid sequence. [00205] Typically, the \ ectors used in any of the host cells w ill contain 5' flanking sequence and other regulatory elements such as an enhancer(s), a promoter, an oπgin of replication element, a transcriptional termination element, a complete intron sequence containing a donor and acceptor splice site, a signal peptide sequence, a πbosome binding site element, a polyadenylation sequence, a polylinker region for inserting the nucleic acid encoding the polypeptide to be expressed, and a selectable marker element Optionally, the \ector may contain a "tag" sequence, i e , an oligonucleotide sequence located at the 5' or 3' end of the coding sequence that encodes polyHis (such as hexaHis) or another small immunogenic sequence This tag w ill be expressed along with the protein, and can ser\e as an affinity tag for purification of the polypeptide from the host cell Optionally, the tag can subsequently be removed from the puπfied polypeptide by means such as using a selected peptidase

[00206] The vector/expression construct may optionally contain elements such as a 5' flanking sequence, an oπgin of replication, a transcπption termination sequence, a selectable marker sequence, a πbosome binding site, a signal sequence, and one or more intron sequences The 5' flanking sequence may be homologous (ι e , from the same species and/or strain as the host cell), heterologous (ι e , from a species other than the host cell species or strain), hybπd (; e , a combination of 5' flanking sequences from more than one source), synthetic, or it may be the native polypeptide 5' flanking sequence As such, the source of the 5' flanking sequence may be any unicellular prokaryotic or eukaryotic organism, any vertebrate or invertebrate organism, or any plant, prov ided that the 5' flanking sequence is functional in, and can be activated by, the host cell machinery

[00207] A transcπption termination element is typically located 3' to the end of the polypeptide coding sequence and serves to terminate transcπption of the polypeptide Usually, the transcπption termination element in prokaryotic cells is a G-C πch fragment followed by a poly T sequence Such elements can be cloned from a library, purchased commercially as part of a vector, and readily synthesized

[00208] Selectable marker genes encode proteins necessary for the sun i\ al and growth of a host cell in a selective culture medium Typical selectable marker genes encode proteins that (a) confer resistance to antibiotics or other toxins, e g , ampicilhn, tetracycline, or kanamycin for prokaryotic host cells, (b) complement auxotrophic deficiencies of the cell, or (c) supply cπtical nutrients not available from complex media [00209] A πbosome binding element, commonl) called the Shine-Dalgarno sequence (prokaryotes) or the Kozak sequence (eukaryotes), is necessary for translation initiation of mRNA The element is typically located 3' to the promoter and 5' to the coding sequence of the polypeptide to be synthesized The Shine-Dalgarno sequence is v aried but is t>pically a polypuπne (ι e , ha\ ing a high A-G content) Many Shine-Dalgarno sequences have been identified, each of which can be readily synthesized using methods set forth above

[00210] All of the elements set forth above, as well as others useful in this invention, are well known to the skilled artisan and are descnbed, for example, in Sambrook, et al , "Molecular Cloning A Laboratory Manual," Cold Spπng Harbor Laboratory Press, Cold Spπng Harbor, N Y (1989) and Berger, et al , eds , "Guide To Molecular Cloning Techniques," Academic Press, Inc , San Diego, Calif ( 1987]

[0021 1] For those embodiments of the invention where the recombinant polypeptide is to be secreted, a signal sequence is preferably included to direct secretion from the cell where it is synthesized Typically, the polynucleotide encoding the signal sequence is positioned at the 5' end of the coding region Many signal sequences have been identified, and any of them that are functional in a target cell or species may be used in conjunction with the transgene

[00212] In many cases, gene transcription is increased by the presence of one or more introns on the vector The intron may be naturally-occurring, especially where the transgene is a full length or a fragment of a genomic DNA sequence The intron may be homologous or heterologous to the transgene and/or to the transgenic mammal into which the gene will be inserted The position of the intron with respect to the promoter and the transgene is important, as the intron must be transcribed to be effective A preferred position for an intron is 3' to the transcπption start site, and 5' to the polyA transcription termination sequence For cDNA transgenes, an intron is placed on one side or the other (ι e , 5' or 3') of the transgene coding sequence Any intron from any source, including any viral, prokaryotic and eukaryotic (plant or animal) organisms, mav be used to express the polypeptide, provided that it is compatible with the host cell(s) into which it is inserted Also included herein are synthetic introns Optionally, more than one intron may be used in the vector [00213] Preferred vectors for recombinant expression are those that are compatible with bacterial, insect, and mammalian host cells. Such vectors include, inter alia, pCRII (Invitrogen Company, San Diego, Calif.), pBSII (Stratagene Company, La Jolla, Calif), and pETL (BlueBacII; Invitrogen).

[00214] After the vector has been constructed and a nucleic acid has been inserted into the proper site of the vector, the completed vector may be inserted into a suitable host cell for amplification and/or polypeptide expression. Commonly used include: Prokaryotic cells such as gram negative or gram positive bacteria, i.e., any strain of E. coli, Bacillus, Streptomyces, Saccharomyces, Salmonella, and the like; eukaryotic cells such as CHO (Chinese hamster ovary) cells; human kidney 293 cells; COS-7 cells; insect cells such as Sf4, Sf5, Sf9, and Sf21 and High 5 (all from the Invitrogen Company, San Diego, Calif); plant cells and various yeast cells such as Saccharomyces and Pichia. Any transformable or transfectable cell or cell line derived from any organism such as bacteria, yeast, fungi, monocot and dicot plants, plant cells, and animals are suitable.

[00215] Insertion (also referred to as "transformation" or "transfection") of the vector into the selected host cell may be accomplished using such methods as calcium chloride, electroporation, microinjection, lipofection or the DEAE-dextran method. The method selected will in part be a function of the type of host cell to be used. These methods and other suitable methods are well known to the skilled artisan, and are set forth, for example, in Sambrook, et al., supra.

[00216] The host cells containing the vector (i.e., transformed or transfected) may be cultured using standard media well known to the skilled artisan. The media will usually contain all nutrients necessary for the growth and survival of the cells. Suitable media for culturing E. coli cells are for example, Luria Broth (LB) and/or Terrific Broth (TB). Suitable media for culturing eukaryotic cells are RPMI 1640, MEM, DMEM, all of which may be supplemented with serum and/or growth factors as required by the particular cell line being cultured. A suitable medium for insect cultures is Grace's medium supplemented with yeastolate, lactalbumin hydrolysate. and or fetal calf serum as necessary.

[00217] Typically, an antibiotic or other compound useful for selective growth of the transformed cells only is added as a supplement to the media. The compound to be used will be dictated by the selectable marker element present on the plasmid with which the host cell was transformed For example, where the selectable marker element is kanamycin resistance, the compound added to the culture medium will be kanamycin

[00218] The amount of polypeptide produced in the host cell can be e\ aluated using standard methods known in the art Such methods include, without limitation, Western blot analysis, SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, non-denaturing gel electrophoresis, HPLC separation, immunoprecipitation, and/or binding assays

D. PuriGcation of Pol> peptides

[00219] If the polypeptide has been designed to be secreted from the host cells, the majoπty of polypeptide will likely be found in the cell culture medium If, however, the polypeptide is not secreted from the host cells, it w ill be present in the cytoplasm (for eukaryotic, gram positive bacteπa, and insect host cells) or in the peπplasm (for gram negatne bacteπa host cells)

[00220] For intracellular polypeptides, the host cells are first disrupted mechanically or osmotically to release the cytoplasmic contents into a buffered solution The polypeptide is then isolated from this solution

[00221 ] Purification of the polypeptide from solution can be accomplished using a vaπety of techniques If the polypeptide has been synthesized such that it contains a tag such as hexahistidine or other small peptide at either its carboxyl or amino terminus, it may essentially be purified in a one-step process by passing the solution through an affinity column where the column matπx has a high affinity for the tag or for the polypeptide directly (ι e , a monoclonal antibody specifically recognizing the polypeptide) For example, polyhistidine binds with great affinity and specificity to nickel, thus an affinity column of nickel (such as the Qiagen nickel columns) can be used for purification of the His-tagged polypeptide (See, for example, Ausubel, et al , eds , "Current Protocols In Molecular Biology," Section 10 1 1 8, John Wiley & Sons, New York (1993))

[00222] The strong affinity a hgand for its receptor permits affinity purification of binding constructs, and binding constructs using an affinity matπx compπsing a complementary binding partner Affinity chromatography may be employed, e g , using either natural binding partners (e g , a hgand when puπfying a binding construct with affinity for the same) or antibodies generated using standard procedures (e g , immunizing a mouse, rabbit or other animal v. ith an appropπate polypeptide) The peptides of the present inv ention ma> be used to generate such antibodies Know n antibodies or antibodies to known growth factor receptors may be employed when they share an epitope with a targeted binding construct

[00223] In addition, other well known procedures for purification can be used Such procedures include, without limitation, ion exchange chromatography, molecular sieve chromatography, HPLC, nati\ e gel electrophoresis in combination with gel elution, and preparative isoelectric focusing ("Isopπme" machine/technique, Hoefer Scientific) In some cases, two or more of these techniques may be combined to achieve increased puπty Preferred methods for purification include polyhistidine tagging and ion exchange chromatography in combination with preparative isoelectric focusing

[00224] Polypeptide found in the penplasmic space of the bacteπa or the cytoplasm of eukaryotic cells, the contents of the peπplasm or cytoplasm, including inclusion bodies (bacteπa) if the processed polypeptide has formed such complexes, can be extracted from the host cell using any standard technique known to the skilled artisan For example, the host cells can be lysed to release the contents of the peπplasm by French press, homogenization, and/or sonication The homogenate can then be centπfuged

[00225] If the polypeptide has formed inclusion bodies in the peπplasm, the inclusion bodies can often bind to the inner and/or outer cellular membranes and thus will be found pπmaπly in the pellet matenal after centπfugation The pellet mateπal can then be treated with a chaotropic agent such as guanidine or urea to release, break apart, and solubihze the inclusion bodies The solubihzed polypeptide can then be analyzed using gel electrophoresis, immunoprecipitation or the like If it is desired to isolate the polypeptide, isolation may be accomplished using standard methods such as those set forth below and in [Marston, et al , Meth Enz , 182 264-275 ( 1990) ]

HI. ANTI-LIGAND AND ANTI-RECEPTOR THERAPEUTIC COMPOUNDS

[00226] Anti-hgand or anti-receptor therapies as discussed below include, but are not limited to antibody, aptamer, antisense and interference RNA techniques and therapies

[00227] Exemplary anti-VEGFR-3 antibodies and their production are descπbed in U S Patent Nos 6,107,046 and 6,824,777, U S Patent Publication Nos 2006/0269548 and 2006/0177901 , and International Patent Application No PCT/FI95/OO337 (WO 95/33772), all incorporated herein b> reference in their entireties

[00228] Exemplar} VEGF-D antibodies are descπbed, for example, in International Patent Application Nos PCT/US97/ 14696 and PCT/US99/31332, International Publication No WO 0037025, U S Patent Nos 6,383,484, 6,730,489 and 7,097,986, and U S Patent Publication Nos 2006/0177428, 2006/0024302, 2002/0123481 , 2005/0282228, 2004/0141917and 2003/0125537, all incorporated herein by reference

[00229] Exemplary VEGF-C antibodies are descπbed, for example, in International Patent Application Nos PCT/FI 1996/000427 (WO/ 1997/005250) and PCTAJS 1998/001973 (WO/ 1998/033917), and U S Patent Publication Nos 2004/0147726, 2005/0232921 , 2005/0192429, 2005/00591 17, 2005/0282228, 2003/0176674, and 2006/0121025, 2006/0030000, and U S Patent No 6,403,088 all incorporated herein by reference

[00230] U S Patent No 7,045, 133, incorporated herein by reference, describes peptidomimetic inhibitors of VEGF-D/VEGF-C/VEGFR-3

[00231 ] Exemplary anti-PDGFR antibodies and other inhibitor compounds are descπbed, for example, in U S Patent Nos 5,418,135, 5,468,468, 5,620,687, 5,932,580, 6,358,954, 6,642,022, and 7,105,305, all incorporated herein by reference

[00232] Exemplary anti-VEGFR antibodies and other inhibitor compounds are descπbed, for example, in U S Patent Nos 7,056,509, 7,052,693, 6,986,890, 6,897,294, 6,887,468, 6,878,720, 6,344,339, 5,955,31 1 , 5,874,542, and 5,840,301 , all incorporated herein by reference

[00233] The following descπption makes specific reference to the production, testing, and use of particular anti-VEGFR-2 antibodies, as representative of the many receptor and growth factor and growth factor antigens descπbed herein The methods descπbed may also be readily adapted for the production of other antibodies for use according to the present invention, e g , anti-growth factor hgand antibodies and anti-receptor antibodies as binding units of the binding constructs Such antibody-type binding units may themselves the used for practicing methods of the invention, or form one binding unit of a more complex, multivalent binding construct In some embodiments a binding construct has at least one binding unit that compπsing a receptor fragment and at least one binding unit that comprises an antigen binding fragment. Antibodies directed against growth factors and receptors may also be used in combination with the binding constructs of the invention. Exemplary antibodies may be found in U.S. Patent Application No. 1 1/075,400, published as U.S. Patent Publication No. 2005/0282233, and related, co-filed International Patent Application No. PCT/US2005/007742, published as WO 2005/087812 (Attorney Docket No. 28967/39820B); andU.S. Patent Publication Nos. 2006/0177428; 2006/0024302; 2004/0175730; and 2004/0141917; all applications are incorporated by reference in their entireties.

A. Therapeutic Anti-VEGFR-2 Selective VEGF-A Antagonist Antibodies

[00234] Polyclonal or monoclonal therapeutic anti-VEGFR-2 antibodies useful in practicing this invention may be prepared in laboratory animals or by recombinant DNA techniques using the following methods. Polyclonal antibodies to the VEGFR-2 molecule or a fragment thereof containing the target amino acid sequence generally are raised in animals by multiple subcutaneous (sc) or intraperitoneal (ip) injections of the VEGFR-2 molecule in combination with an adjuvant such as Freund's adjuvant (complete or incomplete). To enhance lmmunogenicity, it may be useful to first conjugate the VEGFR- 2 molecule or a fragment containing the target amino acid sequence of a protein that is immunogenic in the species to be immunized, e.g., keyhole limpet hemocyarun, serum albumin, bovine thyroglobulin, or soybean trypsin inhibitor using a bifunctional or deπvatizing agent, for example, maleimidobenzoyl sulfosuccinimide ester (conjugation through cysteine residues), N-hydroxysuccinimide (through lysine residues), glutaraldehyde, succinic anhydride, SOCl, or R1N=C=NR, where R and R1 are different alkyl groups. Alternatively, VEGF-2-immunogenic conjugates can be produced recombinantly as fusion proteins.

[00235] Animals are immunized against the immunogenic VEGFR-2 conjugates or derivatives (such as a fragment containing the target amino acid sequence) by combining about 1 mg or about 1 microgram of conjugate (for rabbits or mice, respectively) with about 3 volumes of Freund's complete adjuvant and injecting the solution intradermally at multiple sites. Approximately 7 to 14 days later, animals are bled and the serum is assayed for anti-VEGFR-2 titer. Animals are boosted with antigen repeatedly until the titer plateaus. Preferably, the animal is boosted with the same VEGFR-2 molecule or fragment thereof as was used for the initial immunization, but conjugated to a different protein and/or through a different cross-linking agent In addition, aggregating agents such as alum are used in the injections to enhance the immune response

[00236] Monoclonal antibodies may be prepared by reco\ eπng spleen cells from immunized animals and immortalizing the cells in conv entional fashion, e g by fusion with myeloma cells The clones are then screened for those expressing the desired antibody The monoclonal antibody preferably does not cross-react with other VEGFR family members

[00237] Preparation of antibodies using recombinant DNA methods such as the phagemid display method, may be accomplished using commercially av ailable kits, as for example, the Recombinant Phagemid Antibody System av ailable from Pharmacia (Uppsala, Sweden), or the SurfZAP™ phage display system (Stratagene Inc , La Jolla, Calif )

[00238] One may increase the population of anti-VEGFR-2 antibodies that selectively block VEGF-A binding by using a Ig-domain 3 or other fragment as the immunogen, but that is not necessary After antibodies are generated, they may be tested to ascertain their specific affinities Competiton studies may be performed that show that the antibody competes for binding to VEGFR-2 with VEGF-A, but not with VEGF-C

[00239] One method compπses incubating VEGFR-2 expressing cells with either labeled-VEGF-A alone, the antibody being tested alone, or with both the VEGF-A and the antibody A label on the antibody may be employed in addition to that on VEGF-A or instead of that label The antibody may also be detected using a labeled secondary antibody The first two groups acting as controls allow one to confirm that both the antibody and the VEGF-A ligand (or optionally VEGF-E) are able to bind to the receptor in the absence of the other Those cell samples treated with both VEGF-A (or VEGF-E) and an antibody, that reveal binding of the antibody, but not VEGF-A (or VEGF-E) indicate that the antibody should be further tested As descπbed below, stoichiometric analysis can be used to ascertain that the ligand and antibody are competing for the same molecule

[00240] This further testing may comprise binding studies that reveal that both VEGF-C (or VEGF-D) and the antibody are able to bind the receptor simultaneously This testing also is designed to determine whether VEGF-C and the antibody are simultaneously binding to a single VEGFR-2 molecule as opposed to binding of VEGF-C and the antibody binding to different VEGFR-2 molecules. Comparative quantitative binding studies may accordingly be used. The VEGFR-2 cells are counted in each sample. VEGFR-2 samples, having been counted, are incubated with either labeled VEGF-C alone or labeled (or unlabled using a secondary antibody for detection) antibody alone. The degree of binding is measured, quantitated, using suitable imaging procedures, e.g., if radiolabel is employed using a phosphoimager. The average number of VEGFR-2 receptors per cell are calculated by dividing the amount of bound molecules by the total number of cells. Whether the receptors are saturated with molecules may be achieved by repeating the assay with increasing amounts of the labeled molecule(s). The binding assay is repeated again with both ligand and antibody. If the quantification reveals that the number of antibodies and ligands bound is greater than the total number of receptors, then the antibody has the desired characteristics.

[00241 ] The described protocols may also be modified and used to produce antibodies against any of the other antigens identified herein as targets for anti-rejection therapy, including but not limited to VEGFR-3, VEGF-C, VEGF-D, the other VEGF growth factors, the PDGF receptors, and the PDGF growth factors.

[00242] Preferably, antibodies for administration to humans, although prepared in a laboratory animal such as a mouse, will be "humanized", or chimeric, i.e. made to be compatible with the human immune system such that a human patient will not develop an immune response to the antibody. Even more preferably, human antibodies which can now be prepared using methods such as those described for example, in Lonberg, et al, Nature Genetics, 7: 13-21 (1994) are preferred for therapeutic administration to patients. Fully human antibodies are highly preferred.

1. Humanization Of Anti-VEGFR-2 Monoclonal Antibodies

[00243] Selective binding agents, including monoclonal antibodies, which selectively block VEGF-A without blocking VEGF-C (or VEGF-D) binding may be applied therapeutically. Following are protocols to improve the utility of anti- VEGFR-2 monoclonal antibodies as therapeutics in humans, by "humanizing" the monoclonal antibodies to improve their serum half-life and render them less immunogenic in human hosts (ι e , to prevent human antibody response to non-human anti-VEGFR-2 antibodies) The description also applies to antibodies directed to the other antigens descπbed herein

[00244] The principles of humanization ha\ e been descπbed in the literature and are facilitated by the modular arrangement of antibody proteins To minimize the possibility of binding complement, a humanized antibody of the IgG4 isotype is preferred

[00245] For example, a le\ el of humanization is achie\ ed by generating chimeric antibodies compπsing the \ aπable domains of non-human antibody proteins of interest, such as the anti-VEGFR-2 monoclonal antibodies descπbed herein, with the constant domains of human antibody molecules (See e g , Morrison and Ou Adx Immunol , 44 65- 92 (1989) ) The variable domains of VEGFR-2 neutralizing anti-VEGFR-2 antibodies are cloned from the genomic DNA of a B-cell hybπdoma or from cDNA generated from mRNA isolated from the hybπdoma of interest The V region gene fragments are linked to exons encoding human antibody constant domains, and the resultant construct is expressed in suitable mammalian host cells (e g , myeloma or CHO cells)

[00246] To achieve an even greater levels of humanization, only those portions of the vaπable region gene fragments that encode antigen-binding complementaπty determining regions ("CDR") of the non-human monoclonal antibody genes are cloned into human antibody sequences [See, e g , Jones et al Nature, 321 522-525 (1986), Riechmann et al , Nature, 332 323-327 (1988), Verhoeyen et al , Science, 239 1534-36 (1988), and Tempest et al Bio/Technology, 9 266-71 ( 1991 ) ] If necessary, the B-sheet framework of the human antibody surrounding the CDR3 regions also is modified to more closely mirror the three dimensional structure of the antigen-binding domain of the oπginal monoclonal antibody [(See Kettleborough et al , Protein Engin , 4 773-783 (1991), and Foote et al , J MoI Biol , 224 487-499 (1992) )]

[00247] In an alternative approach, the surface of a non-human monoclonal antibody of interest is humanized by alteπng selected surface residues of the non-human antibody, e g , by site-directed mutagenesis, while retaining all of the inteπor and contacting residues of the non-human antibod} [See Padlan, Molecular Immunol , 28(4/5) 489-98 ( 1991 ) ]

[00248] The foregoing approaches are employed using VEGFR-2-neutralizing anti- VEGFR-2 monoclonal antibodies and the hybπdomas that produce them to generate humanized VEGFR-2-neutralizing antibodies useful as therapeutics to treat or palliate conditions wherein VEGFR-2 expression is detπmental and/or actu ation by VEGF-A One therapeutic target is selectn e promotion of lymphangiogenesis while minimizing promotion of angiogenesis

2. Human VEGFR-2-Neutralizing Antibodies From Phage Display [00249] Human VEGFR-2-neutralizing antibodies are generated by phage display techniques such as those descnbed in Aujame et al , Human Antibodies, 8(4)' 155- 168 (1997); Hoogenboom, TIBTECH, 15 62-70 (1997), and Rader e/ α/ , Curr Opin Biotechnol , 8:503-508 (1997), all of which are incorporated by reference. For example, antibody variable regions in the form of Fab fragments or linked single chain Fv fragments are fused to the amino terminus of filamentous phage minor coat protein pill Expression of the fusion protein and incorporation thereof into the mature phage coat results in phage particles that present an antibody on their surface and contain the genetic mateπal encoding the antibody. A phage library composing such constructs is expressed in bacteπa, and the library is panned (screened) for VEGFR-2-specific phage-antibodies using labeled or immobilized VEGFR-2 as antigen-probe.

3. Human VEGFR-2-Neutralizing Antibodies From Transgenic Mice

[00250] Human VEGFR-2-neutralizing antibodies are generated in transgenic mice essentially as descnbed in Bruggemarurand Neuberger, Immunol Today, 17(8):391-97 (1996) and Bruggemann and Taussig, Curr Opin Biotechnol . 8:455-58 (1997)

Transgenic mice carrying human V-gene segments in germline configuration and that express these transgenes in their lymphoid tissue are immunized with an VEGFR-2 composition using conventional immunization protocols. Hybπdomas are generated using B cells from the immunized mice using conventional protocols and screened to identify hybπdomas secreting anti-VEGFR-2 human antibodies (e g , as described above).

4. Bispecific Antibodies

[00251 ] Bispecific antibodies that specifically bind to VEGFR-2 and that specifically bind to other antigens relevant to pathology and/or treatment are produced, isolated, and tested using standard procedures that have been descnbed in the literature. See, e g., Pluckthun & Pack, Immunotechnology, 3:83-105 (1997), Carter et al , J Hematotherapy, 4: 463-470 (1995); Renner & Pfreundschuh, Immunological Reviews, 1995, No. 145, pp. 179-209; Pfreundschuh U.S. Patent No. 5,643,759; Segal et al , J. Hematotherapy, 4: 377- 382 ( 1995), Segal et al Immunobiology, 185 390-402 ( 1992), and Bolhuis et al Cancel Immunol Immunother , 34 1 -8 (1991 ), all of which are incorporated herein by reference in their entireties Bispecifϊc antibodies that may be emplo>ed in combination w ith the binding constructs of the invention include those descπbed in U S Patent Publication No 2005/0282233, incorporated herein by reference

[00252] For example, bispecific antibodies (bscAb) are produced by joining f\\o single- chain Fv fragments via a glycine-serine linker using recombinant methods The V light- chain (VL) and V heavy-chain (VH) domains of two antibodies of interest are isolated using standard PCR methods The VL and VH CDNA'S obtained from each hybπdoma are then joined to form a single-chain fragment in a two-step fusion PCR Bispecific fusion proteins are prepared in a similar manner Bispecific single-chain antibodies and bispecific fusion proteins are antibody substances included within the scope of the present invention

Antibody fragments that contain the antigen binding, or ldiotype, of the molecule may be generated by known techniques For example, such fragments include, but are not limited to, the F(ab')2 fragment which may be produced by pepsin digestion of the antibody molecule, the Fab' fragments which may be generated by reducing the disulfide bπdges of the F(ab')2 fragment, and the two Fab1 fragments which may be generated by treating the antibody molecule with papain and a reducing agent

[00253] Chemically constructed bispecific antibodies may be prepared by chemically cross-linking heterologous Fab or F(ab')2 fragments by means of chemicals such as heterobifunctional reagent succinimidyl-3-(2-pyπdyldithiol)-propionate (SPDP, Pierce Chemicals, Rockford, 111 ) The Fab and F(ab')2 fragments can be obtained from intact antibody by digesting it with papain or pepsin, respectively (Karpovsky et al , J Exp Med 160 1686-701 , 1984, Titus et al , J Immunol , 138 4018-22, 1987)

5. Humanization of Known Anti-VEGFR-2 Antibodies

[00254] Existing anti-VEGF-2 antibodies may also be employed in the various methods and compositions of the present invention, and, if not already humanized, may be humanized as discussed herein Known anti-VEGFR-2 antibodies may be tested for the ability to selectively block VEGF-A binding using the methods discussed herein Known anti-VEGFR-2 antibodies (anti-KDR antibodies) are taught for example in Lu et al , J Immunological Methods, 230 159-71 (1999), Lu, et al , J Biol Chem , 275(19) 14321 - 14330 (2000), and Lu, et al , J Biol Chem , 278(44) 43496-43507 (2003) 6. Domain Antibodies

[00255] A domain antibody comprises a functional binding unit of an antibody, and can correspond to the variable regions of either the heavy (VH) or light (VL) chains of antibodies. A domain antibody can have a molecular weight of approximately 13kDa, or approximately one-tenth of a full antibody. Domain antibodies may be derived from full antibodies such as those described herein.

B. Anti-Receptor And Anti-Ligand Aptamers

[00256] Recent advances in the field of combinatorial sciences have identified short polymer sequences with high affinity and specificity to a given target. For example, SELEX technology has been used to identify DNA and RNA aptamers with binding properties that rival mammalian antibodies, the field of immunology has generated and isolated antibodies or antibody fragments which bind to a myriad of compounds and phage display has been utilized to discover new peptide sequences with very favorable binding properties. Based on the success of these molecular evolution techniques, it is certain that molecules can be created which bind to any target molecule. A loop structure is often involved with providing the desired binding attributes as in the case of: aptamers which often utilize hairpin loops created from short regions without complimentary base pairing, naturally derived antibodies that utilize combinatorial arrangement of looped hyper- variable regions and new phage display libraries utilizing cyclic peptides that have shown improved results when compared to linear peptide phage display results. Thus, sufficient evidence has been generated to suggest that high affinity ligands can be created and identified by combinatorial molecular evolution techniques. For the present invention, molecular evolution techniques can be used to isolate binding constructs specific for ligands described herein. For more on aptamers, See generally, Gold, L., Singer, B., He, Y. Y., Brody. E., "Aptamers As Therapeutic And Diagnostic Agents," J. Biotechnol 74:5- 13 (2000). Relevant techniques for generating aptamers may be found in U.S. Pat. No. 6,699,843, which is incorporated by reference in its entirety.

[00257] In some embodiments, the aptamer may be generated by preparing a library of nucleic acids; contacting the library of nucleic acids with a growth factor, wherein nucleic acids having greater binding affinity for the growth factor (relative to other library nucleic acids) are selected and amplified to yield a mixture of nucleic acids enriched for nucleic acids with relatively higher affinity and specificity for binding to the growth factor. The processes may be repeated, and the selected nucleic acids mutated and rescreened, whereby a growth factor aptamer is be identified. Nucleic acids may be screened to select for molecules that bind to more than growth factor. Binding more than one growth factor can refer to binding more than one growth factor simultaneously or competitively. In some embodiments a binding construct will comprise at least one aptamer, wherein a first binding unit binds VEGF-A and a second binding unit binds VEGF-C. In some embodiments a binding construct will comprise at least one aptamer, wherein a first binding unit binds a VEGF growth factor subfamily member and a second binding unit binds a PDGF subfamily member.

C. Anti-Sense Molecules And Therapy

[00258] Another class of inhibitors that may be used in conjunction with the present invention is isolated antisense nucleic acid molecules that can hybridize to, or are complementary to, the nucleic acid molecule, nucleotide sequence, or fragments, analogs or derivatives thereof. Antisense modulation of VEGF-C is described in U.S. Patent Application Publication No. 2003/0232437, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety. Antisense modulation of VEGFR-2 is described in U.S. Patent No. 6,734,017, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

[00259] Antisense and interfering RNA molecules that target any of the growth factors (e.g., VEGF-A, -B, -C, -D; PDGF-A, -B, -C, -D) and growth factor receptors (e..g., VEGFR- 1 , VEGFR-2, VEGFR-3, PDGFR-alpha, PDGFR-beta) described herein are specifically contemplated for use in methods and products of the invention.

[00260] An "antisense" nucleic acid comprises a nucleotide sequence that is complementary to a "sense" nucleic acid encoding a protein (e.g., complementary to the coding strand of a double-stranded cDNA molecule or complementary to an mRNA sequence). In specific embodiments, antisense nucleic acid molecules are provided that comprise a sequence complementary to at least about 10, 25, 50, 100, 250 or 500 nucleotides or an entire receptor or ligand coding strand, or to only a portion thereof. Nucleic acid molecules encoding fragments, homologs, derivatives and analogs of receptor or ligand or antisense nucleic acids complementary to a receptor or ligand nucleic acid sequence are additionally provided. [00261 ] In one embodiment, an antisense nucleic acid molecule is antisense to a "coding region" of the coding strand of a nucleotide sequence encoding a receptor or hgand protein (or fragments or fragment combination thereof) The term "coding region" refers to the region of the nucleotide sequence comprising codons that are translated into amino acid residues In another embodiment, the antisense nucleic acid molecule is antisense to a "conceding region" of the coding strand of a nucleotide sequence encoding the receptor or hgand protein The term "conceding region" refers to 5' and 3' sequences that flank the coding region and that are not translated into amino acids (/ e , also referred to as 5' and 3' untranslated regions)

[00262] Given the coding strand sequences encoding the receptor or hgand protein disclosed herein, antisense nucleic acids of the invention can be designed according to the rules of Watson and Cπck or Hoogsteen base paiπng The antisense nucleic acid molecule can be complementary to the entire coding region of a hgand or receptor mRNA, but more preferably is an oligonucleotide that is antisense to only a portion of the coding or rioncoding region of receptor or hgand mRNA For example, the antisense oligonucleotide can be complementary to the region surrounding the translation start site of receptor or hgand mRNA An antisense oligonucleotide can be, for example, about 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, or 50 nucleotides in length An antisense nucleic acid of the invention can be constructed using chemical synthesis or enzymatic ligation reactions using procedures known in the art For example, an antisense nucleic acid (e g , an antisense oligonucleotide) can be chemically synthesized using naturally-occurring nucleotides or variously modified nucleotides designed to increase the biological stability of the molecules or to increase the physical stability of the duplex formed between the antisense and sense nucleic acids (e g , phosphorothioate deπvatives and acπdine substituted nucleotides can be used)

[00263] Examples of modified nucleotides that can be used to generate the antisense nucleic acid include 5-fluorouracil, 5-bromouracil, 5-chlorouracil, 5-iodouracil, hypoxanthine, xanthine, 4-acetylcytosine, 5-(carboxyhydroxylmethyl) uracil, 5- carboxymethylaminomethyl-2-thiouπdine, 5-carboxymethylaminomethyluracil, dihydrouracil, beta-D-galactosylqueosine, inosine, N6-isopentenyladenme, 1- methylguanine, 1-methyhnosine, 2,2-dimethylguanine, 2-methyladenine, 2-methyl guanine, 3-methylcytosine, 5-methylcytosine, N6-ademne, 7-methylguanine, 5- methylaminomethyluracil, 5-methoxyammomethyl-2-thiouracil, beta-D- mannosylqυeosine, S'-methoxycarboxymethyluracil, 5-methoxyυracil, 2-methylthio-N6- isopentenyladenine, uracil-5-oxyacetic acid (v), wybutoxosine, pseudouracil, queosine, 2- thiocytosine, 5-methyl-2-thiouracil, 2-thioυracil, 4-tliiouracil, 5-methyluracil, υracil-5- oxyacetic acid methylester, uracil-5-oxyacetic acid (v), 5-methyl-2-thiouracil, 3-(3-amino- 3-N-2-carboxypropyl) uracil, (acp3)w, and 2,6-diaminopurine. Alternatively, the antisense nucleic acid can be produced biologically using an expression vector into which a nucleic acid has been subcloned in an antisense orientation (i.e., RNA transcribed from the inserted nucleic acid will be of an antisense orientation to a target nucleic acid of interest, described further in the following section).

[00264] The antisense nucleic acid molecules of the invention are typically administered to a subject or generated in situ such that they hybridize with or bind to cellular mRNA and/or genomic DNA encoding a receptor or ligand to thereby inhibit expression of the protein (e.g., by inhibiting transcription and/or translation). The hybridization can be by conventional nucleotide complementarity to form a stable duplex, or, for example, in the case of an antisense nucleic acid molecule that binds to DNA duplexes, through specific interactions in the major groove of the double helix. An example of a route of administration of antisense nucleic acid molecules of the invention includes direct injection at a tissue site. Alternatively, antisense nucleic acid molecules can be modified to target selected cells and then administered systemically. For example, for systemic administration, antisense molecules can be modified such that they specifically bind to receptors or antigens expressed on a selected cell surface (e.g., by linking the antisense nucleic acid molecules to peptides or antibodies that bind to cell surface receptors or antigens). The antisense nucleic acid molecules can also be delivered to cells using the vectors described herein. To achieve sufficient nucleic acid molecules, vector constructs in which the antisense nucleic acid molecule is placed under the control of a strong pol II or pol III promoter are preferred.

[00265] Ln yet another embodiment, the antisense nucleic acid molecule of the invention is an alpha- anomeric nucleic acid molecule. An alpha-anomeric nucleic acid molecule forms specific double-stranded hybrids with complementary RNA in which, contrary to the usual alpha-units, the strands run parallel to each other. See, e.g., Gaultier, et ai, Nucl. Acids Res., 15:6625-6641 (1987). The antisense nucleic acid molecule can also comprise a 2'-o-methylribonucleotide (see, e.g., Lnoue, et al. Nucl. Acids Res., 15:6131-6148 (1987)) or a chimeric RNA-DNA analogue (see, e.g. , Inoue, et al, FEBS Lett., 215:327-330 (1987)).

[00266] Production and delivery of antisense molecules are facilitated by providing a vector comprising an anti-sense nucleotide sequence complementary to at least a part of the Receptor or ligand DNA sequence. According to a yet further aspect of the invention such a vector comprising an anti-sense sequence may be used to inhibit, or at least mitigate, Receptor or ligand expression.

[00267] Alternatively, nucleic acid sequences which inhibit or interfere with gene expression (e.g., siRNA, shRNA, ribozymes, aptamers) can be used to inhibit or interfere with the activity of RNA or DNA encoding a target protein.

D. Anti-Ligand or Anti-Receptor RNA Interference

[00268] Use of RNA Interference to inactivate or modulate receptor or ligand expression is also contemplated by this invention. RNA interference is described in U.S. Patent Appl. Pub. No. 2002/0162126, and Harmon, G., J. Nature, 1 1 :418:244-51 (2002). "RNA interference," "post-transcriptional gene silencing," "quelling"— these terms have all been used to describe similar effects that result from the overexpression or misexpression of transgenes, or from the deliberate introduction of double-stranded RNA into cells (reviewed in Fire, A., Trends Genet 15:358-363 (1999); Sharp, P.A., Genes Dev., 13: 139- 141 (1999); Hunter, C, Curr. Biol., 9:R440-R442 (1999); Baulcombe, D.C., Curr. Biol. 9:R599-R601 (1999); Vaucheret, et al. Plant J. 16:651-659 (1998), all incorporated by reference. RNA interference, commonly referred to as RNAi, offers a way of specifically and potently inactivating a cloned gene. RNA interference of the VEGF family of proteins and receptors is described in U.S. Patent application Publicaiton Nos.: 2006/0217332, 2006/0025370, 2005/0233998, 2005/0222066 and 2005/0171039, the disclosure of which are incorporated herein by reference in their entireties.

[00269] Interfering RNA directed to VEGF or VEGFR family members is described in U.S. Patent Publication No. 2006/0217332, incorporated herein by reference.

[00270] siRNA (short interfering RNA) technology relates to a process of sequence- , specific post-transcriptional gene repression which can occur in eukaryotic cells. In general, this process involves degradation of an mRNA of a particular sequence induced by double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) that is homologous to that sequence. For example, the expression of a long dsRNA corresponding to the sequence of a particular single-stranded mRNA (ss mRNA) will labihze that message, thereb} '"interfering" w ith expression of the corresponding gene Accordingly, any selected gene may be repressed by introducing a dsRNA which corresponds to all or a substantial part of the mRNA for that gene It appears that when a long dsRNA is expressed, it is initially processed by a πbonuclease III into shorter dsRNA oligonucleotides of as few as 21 to 22 base pairs in length Accordingly, siRNA may be effected by introduction or expression of relatively short homologous dsRNAs Indeed the use of relatively short homologous dsRNAs may have certain advantages as discussed below

[00271] Compared to siRNA, shRNA (short hairpin RNA) offers advantages in silencing longevity and delivery options See, Harmon et al , Nature, 431 371-378, 2004, for review Vectors that produce shRNAs, which are processed intracellularly into short duplex RNAs having siRNA-like properties have been reported (Brummelkamp et al , Science 296, 550- 553, 2000, Paddison et al , Genes Dev 16, 948-958 (2002) Such vectors provide a renewable source of a gene-silencing reagent that can mediate persistent gene silencing after stable integration of the vector into the host-cell genome Furthermore, the core silencing 'hairpin' cassette can be readily inserted into retroviral, lentiviral or adenoviral vectors, facilitating delivery of shRNAs into a broad range of cell types (Brummelkamp et al , Cancer Cell 2 243-247, 2002, Dirac, et al , J Biol Chem 278 1 1731-1 1734, 2003, Michiels et al , Nat Biotechnol 20 1 154-1 157, 2002, Stegmeie et al , Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 102 13212-13217, 2005, Khvorova et al , Cell, 1 15 209-216 (2003) in any of the innumerable ways that have been devised for delivery of DNA constructs that allow ectopic mRNA expression These include standard transient transfection, stable transfection and delivery using viruses ranging from retroviruses to adenoviruses Expression can also be dπven by either constitutive or inducible promoter systems (Paddison et al , Methods MoI Biol 265 85-100, 2004) Delivery of nucleic acid inhibitors by replicating or replication-deficient vectors is contemplated as an aspect of the invention

[00272] Mammalian cells have at least two pathways that are affected by double- stranded RNA (dsRNA) In the siRNA (sequence-specific) pathway, the initiating dsRNA is first broken into short interfering (si) RNAs, as described above The siRNAs have sense and antisense strands of about 21 nucleotides that form approximately 19 nucleotide si RNAs with overhangs of two nucleotides at each 3' end Short interfering RNAs are thought to provide the sequence information that allows a specific messenger RNA to be targeted for degradation In contrast, the nonspecific pathway is tπggered by dsRNA of any sequence, as long as it is at least about 30 base pairs in length

[00273] The nonspecific effects occur because dsRNA activates two enzymes PKR, which in its active form phosphorylates the translation initiation factor eIF2 to shut down all protein synthesis, and 2', 5' oligoadenylate synthetase (2", 5'-AS), which synthesizes a molecule that activates RNase L, a nonspecific enzyme that targets all mRNAs The nonspecific pathway may represent a host response to stress or viral infection, and, in general, the effects of the nonspecific pathway are preferably minimized Significantly, longer dsRNAs appear to be required to induce the nonspecific pathway and, accordingly, dsRNAs shorter than about 30 bases pairs are preferred to effect gene repression by RNAi (see Hunter et al , 1975, J. Biol Chem 250 409-17, Manche et al , 1992, MoI Cell Biol 12.5239-48, Minks et al , 1979, J Biol Chem 254.10180-3, and Elbashir et al , 2001 , Nature 41 1 :494-8) siRNA has proven to be an effective means of decreasing gene expression in a variety of cell types including HeLa cells, NIH/3T3 cells, COS cells, 293 cells and BHK-21 cells, and typically decreases expression of a gene to lower levels than that achieved usmg antisense techniques and, indeed, frequently eliminates expression entirely (see Bass, 2001, Nature 41 1 428-9) In mammalian cells, siRNAs are effective at concentrations that are several orders of magnitude below the concentrations typically used Ui antisense expeπments (Elbashir et al., 2001 , Nature 41 1 494-8).

[00274] The double stranded oligonucleotides used to effect RNAi are preferably less than 30 base pairs in length and, more preferably, compπse about 25, 24, 23, 22, 21 , 20, 19, 18 or 17 base pairs of ribonucleic acid Optionally the dsRNA oligonucleotides may include 3' overhang ends Exemplary 2-nucleotide 3' overhangs may be composed of ribonucleotide residues of any type and may even be composed of 2'-deoxythymidine resides, which lowers the cost of RNA synthesis and may enhance nuclease resistance of siRNAs in the cell culture medium and within transfected cells (see Elbashi et al., 2001, Nature 41 1 494-8)

[00275] [Longer dsRNAs of 50, 75, 100 or even 500 base pairs or more may also be utilized in certain embodiments of the invention Exemplary concentrations of dsRNAs for effecting RNAi are about 0 05 nM, 0.1 nM, 0 5 nM, 1 0 nM, 1.5 nM, 25 nM or 100 nM, although other concentrations may be utilized depending upon the nature of the cells treated, the gene target and other factors readil) discernable to the skilled artisan

[00276] Exemplary dsRNAs may be synthesized chemically or produced in \ itro or in vivo using appropπate expression \ ectors Exemplary synthetic RNAs include 21 nucleotide RNAs chemically synthesized using methods known in the art Synthetic oligonucleotides are preferably deprotected and gel-pun fied using methods known in the art (see e g Elbashir et al , 2001 , Genes Dev 15 188-200) Longer RNAs may be transcπbed from promoters, such as T7 RNA polymerase promoters, known in the art A single RNA target, placed in both possible orientations downstream of an in vitro promoter, will transcπbe both strands of the target to create a dsRNA oligonucleotide of the desired target sequence Any of the above RNA species will be designed to include a portion of nucleic acid sequence represented in a target nucleic acid

[00277] The specific sequence utilized in design of the oligonucleotides may be any contiguous sequence of nucleotides contained within the expressed gene message of the target Programs and algorithms, known in the art, may be used to select appropπate target sequences In addition, optimal sequences may be selected utilizing programs designed to predict the secondary structure of a specified single stranded nucleic acid sequence and allowing selection of those sequences likely to occur in exposed single stranded regions of a folded mRNA Methods and compositions for designing appropπate oligonucleotides may be found, for example, in U S Pat No 6,251 ,588, the contents of which are incorporated herein by reference

[00278] Although mRNAs are generally thought of as linear molecules containing the information for directing protein synthesis within the sequence of πbonucleotides, most mRNAs have been shown to contain a number of secondary and tertiary structures Secondary structural elements in RNA are formed largely by Watson-Cπck type interactions between different regions of the same RNA molecule Important secondary structural elements include intramolecular double stranded regions, hairpin loops, bulges in duplex RNA and internal loops Tertiary structural elements are formed when secondary structural elements come in contact with each other or with single stranded regions to produce a more complex three dimensional structure A number of researchers have measured the binding energies of a large number of RNA duplex structures and have deπved a set of rules which can be used to predict the secondary structure of RNA (see e g Jaeger et al., 1989, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 86:7706; and Turner et al.., 1988, Annu. Rev. Biophys. Biophys. Chem. 17: 167). The rules are useful in identification of RNA structural elements and, in particular, for identifying single stranded RNA regions which may represent preferred segments of the mRNA to target for siRNA, ribozyme or antisense technologies. Accordingly, preferred segments of the mRNA target can be identified for design of the siRNA mediating dsRNA oligonucleotides as well as for design of appropriate ribozyme and hammerheadribozyme compositions of the invention (see below).

[00279] The dsRNA oligonucleotides may be introduced into the cell by transfection with a heterologous target gene using carrier compositions such as liposomes, which are known in the art— e.g. Lipofectamine 2000 (Life Technologies) as described by the manufacturer for adherent cell lines. Transfection of dsRNA oligonucleotides for targeting endogenous genes may be carried out using Oligofectamine (Life Technologies). Transfection efficiency may be checked using fluorescence microscopy for mammalian cell lines after co-transfection of hGFP-encoding pAD3 (Kehlenback et al., 1998, J. Cell Biol. 141 :863-74). The effectiveness of the siRNA may be assessed by any of a number of assays following introduction of the dsRNAs. These include Western blot analysis using antibodies which recognize the target gene product following sufficient time for turnover of the endogenous pool after new protein synthesis is repressed, reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction and Northern blot analysis to determine the level of existing target mRNA.

[00280] Further compositions, methods and applications of siRNA technology are provided in U.S. patent application Nos. 6,278,039, 5,723,750 and 5,244,805, which are incorporated herein by reference.

E. Small Molecule Inhibitors

Any chemical substance that can be safely administered as a therapeutic and that can be used to modulate biochemical pathway targets identified herein, such as VEGF- mediated stimulation of VEGF receptors, may be used to practice the invention. Small molecules that inhibit the interaction between VEGF-C and/or VEGFR-3 with VEGFR-3 are specifically contemplated. VEGF-C/VEGF-D inhibitors are disclosed in U.S. Patent No. 7,045,133, incorporated herein by reference. The VEGF receptors are receptor tyrosine kinases and intracellular signaling is initiated through receptor phosphorylation Accordingly, one preferred class of molecules for practice of the invention is tyrosine kinase inhibitors, including those descπbed in and Moπn, Oncogene, 19(56) 6574-83, 2000, incorporated herein b> reference VEGFR-3 inhibitors are disclosed in U S Patent Publication No 2002- 0164667, incorporated herein by reference

IV. THERAPEUTIC FORMULATIONS AND ADMINISTRATION A. Therapeutic Formulations

[00281 ] Binding constructs, or polynucleotides encoding the same, can be used directly to practice materials and methods of the invention, but in preferred embodiments, the compounds are formulated with pharmaceutically acceptable diluents, adjuvants, excipients, or earners The phrase "pharmaceutically or pharmacologically acceptable" refers to molecular entities and compositions that do not produce adverse, allergic, or other untoward reactions when administered to an animal or a human, e g , orally, topically, transdermally, parenterally, by inhalation spray, vaginally, rectally, or by intracranial injection (The term parenteral as used herein includes subcutaneous injections, intravenous, intramuscular, intracisternal injection, or infusion techniques Administration by intravenous, intradermal, intramusclar, lntramammary, intraperitoneal, intrathecal, retrobulbar, intrapulmonary injection and/or surgical implantation at a particular site is contemplated as well ) Generally, this will also entail prepaπng compositions that are essentially free of pyrogens, as well as other impurities that could be harmful to humans or animals The term "pharmaceutically acceptable earner" includes any and all solvents, dispersion media, coatings, antibactenal and antifungal agents, isotonic and absorption delaying agents and the like The use of such media and agents for pharmaceutically active substances is well known in the art

[00282] Therapeutic formulations of the compositions useful for practicing the invention such as polypeptides, polynucleotides, or antibodies may be prepared for storage by mixing the selected composition having the desired degree of punty with optional physiologically pharmaceutically-acceptable earners, excipients, or stabilizers (Remington's Pharmaceutical Sciences, 18th edition, A R Gennaro, ed , Mack Publishing Company (1990)) in the form of a lyophihzed cake or an aqueous solution Pharmaceutical compositions may be produced by admixing with one or more suitable earners or adjuvants such as water, mineral oil, polyethylene glycol, starch, talcum, lactose, thickeners, stabilizers, suspending agents, etc. Such compositions may be in the form of solutions, suspensions, tablets, capsules, creams, salves, ointments, or other conventional forms.

[00283] Acceptable carriers, excipients or stabilizers are nontoxic to recipients and are preferably inert at the dosages and concentrations employed, and include buffers such as phosphate, citrate, or other organic acids; antioxidants such as ascorbic acid; low molecular weight polypeptides; proteins, such as serum albumin, gelatin, or immunoglobulins; hydrophilic polymers such as polyvinylpyrrolidone; amino acids such as glycine, glutamine, asparagine, arginine or lysine; monosaccharides, disaccharides, and other carbohydrates including glucose, mannose, or dextrins; chelating agents such as EDTA; sugar alcohols such as mannitol or sorbitol; salt-forming counterions such as sodium; and/or nonionic surfactants such as Tween, Pluronics or polyethylene glycol (PEG).

[00284] The composition to be used for in vivo administration should be sterile. This is readily accomplished by filtration through sterile filtration membranes, prior to or following lyophilization and reconstitution. Therapeutic compositions generally are placed into a container having a sterile access port, for example, an intravenous solution bag or vial having a stopper pierceable by a hypodermic injection needle. The route of administration of the composition is in accord with known methods, e.g. oral, injection or infusion by intravenous, intraperitoneal, intracerebral, intramuscular, intraocular, intraarterial, or intralesional routes, or by sustained release systems or implantation device. Where desired, the compositions may be administered continuously by infusion, bolus injection or by implantation device. The composition for parenteral administration ordinarily will be stored in lyophilized form or in solution.

[00285] The pharmaceutical forms suitable for injectable use include sterile aqueous solutions or dispersions and sterile powders for the extemporaneous preparation of sterile injectable solutions or dispersions. In all cases the form should be sterile and should be fluid to the extent that easy syringability exists. It should be stable under the conditions of manufacture and storage and should be preserved against the contaminating action of microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi. The carrier can be a solvent or dispersion medium containing, for example, water, ethanol, polyol (for example, glycerol, propylene glycol, and liquid polyethylene glycol, and the like), suitable mixtures thereof, and vegetable oils. The proper fluidity can be maintained, for example, by the use of a coating, such as lecithin, by the maintenance of the required particle size in the case of dispersion and by the use of surfactants. The prevention of the action of microorganisms can be brought about by various antibacterial an antifungal agents, for example, parabens, chlorobutanol, phenol, sorbic acid, thimerosal, and the like. In many cases, it will be preferable to include isotonic agents, for example, sugars or sodium chloride. Prolonged absorption of the injectable compositions can be brought about by the use in the compositions of agents delaying absorption, for example, aluminum monostearate and gelatin.

[00286] Suitable examples of sustained-release preparations include semipermeable polymer matrices in the form of shaped articles, e.g. films, or microcapsules. Sustained release matrices include polyesters, hydrogels, polylactides (U.S. Pat No. 3,773,919, EP 58,481), copolymers of L-glutamic acid and gamma ethyl-L-glutamate (Sidman, et al, Biopolymers, 22: 547-556 (1983)), poly (2-hydroxyethyl-methacrylate) (Langer, et al., J. Biomed. Mater. Res., 15: 167-277 (1981) and Langer, Chem. Tech., 12:98-105 (1982)), ethylene vinyl acetate (Langer, et al. , supra) or poly-D(-)-3-hydroxybutyric acid (EP 133,988). Sustained-release compositions also may include liposomes, which can be prepared by any of several methods known in the art {e.g., DE 3,218,121 ; Epstein, et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. ScL USA, 82:3688-3692 (1985); Hwang, et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 77:4030-4034 (1980); EP 52,322; EP 36,676; EP 88,046; EP 143,949).

[00287] An effective amount of the compositions to be employed therapeutically will depend, for example, upon the therapeutic objectives, the route of administration, and the condition of the patient. A therapist can titer the dosage and modify the route of administration to obtain the optimal therapeutic effect. A typical daily dosage may range from about 1 μg/kg to up to 100 mg/kg or more, depending on the factors mentioned above. Typically, a clinician will administer the composition until a dosage is reached that achieves the desired effect. The progress of this therapy is easily monitored by conventional assays designed to evaluate the particular disease state being treated.

B. Kits And Unit Doses

[00288] In related variations of the preceding embodiments, a binding construct may be packaged or formulated together with another binding construct or other therapeutic {e.g. , an immunosuppressive agent), e.g., in a kit or package or unit dose, to permit coadministration, but these two components are not in admixture. In some embodiments, the two components to the kit/unit dose are packaged with instructions for administering the two compounds to a human subject for treatment of one of the disorders and diseases descπbed herein

C. Polynucleotide-Based Therapies [00289] The present invention also includes gene therapy mateπals and methods Specifically, polypeptides and binding constructions of the invention can be produced at therapeutic levels in vivo by administration of a gene therapy contrast that enters cells and is expressed in vivo to produce the polypeptides or binding constructs For example, in some embodiments, the vasculature of a cancer cell or cancer cells may be contacted with an expression construct capable of providing a therapeutic peptide or binding constructs of the present invention Expression of the polypeptide or binding construct causes a therapeutic outcome, for example, inhibition of growth factors and receptors in the vasculature of a tumor, an inhibition of angiogenesis, an inhibition of lymphangiogenesis, an ablation, regression or other inhibition of tumor growth, an induction of apoptosis of the blood or lymphatic vasculature of the tumor or indeed the tumor cells themselves

[00290] For these embodiments, an exemplary expression construct compπses a virus or engineered construct deπved from a viral genome. Such vectors and constructs are considered aspect of the invention. The expression construct generally compπses a nucleic acid encoding the gene or binding construct, including any nucleic acid molecule descπbed herein, to be expressed and also additional regulatory regions that will effect the expression of the gene in the cell to which it is administered. Such regulatory regions include for example promoters, enhancers, polyadenylation signals and the like

[00291] DNA may be introduced into a cell using a vaπety of viral vectors. In such embodiments, expression constructs compπsing viral vectors containing the genes of interest may be adenoviral (see, for example, U.S. Patent No. 5,824,544; U.S. Patent No. 5,707,618; U.S. Patent No. 5,693,509, U.S. Patent No. 5,670,488; U.S. Patent No 5,585,362, each incorporated herein by reference), retroviral (see, for example, U. S Patent No. 5,888,502; U.S Patent No 5,830,725; U.S Patent No. 5,770,414; U. S Patent No 5,686,278; U.S. Patent No. 4,861,719, each incorporated herein by reference), adeno- associated viral (see, for example, U.S. Patent No 5,474,935; U S. Patent No 5, 139,941 ; U.S. Patent No. 5,622,856; U.S. Patent No. 5,658,776, U S Patent No 5,773,289, U.S. Patent No. 5,789,390; U.S. Patent No. 5,834,441 ; U.S. Patent No. 5,863,541 ; U.S. Patent No 5,851 ,521 , U S Patent No 5,252,479, each incorporated herein b> reference), an adeno\ iral-adenoassociated \ iral h\bπd (see, for example, U S Patent No 5,856, 152 incorporated herein by reference) or a vaccinia viral or a herpesviral (see, for example, U S Patent No 5,879,934, U S Patent No 5,849,571 , U S Patent No 5,830,727, U S Patent No 5,661 ,033, U S Patent No 5,328,688, each incorporated herein b> reference) vector Other vectors descπbed herein may also be employed Replication-deficient v iral vectors are specifically contemplated

[00292] In other embodiments, non-v iral deliv ery is contemplated These include calcium phosphate precipitation (Graham and Van Der Eb, Virology , 52 456-467 (1973), Chen and Okayama, MoI Cell Biol , 7 2745-2752, (1987), Rippe, et al , MoI Cell Biol , 10 689-695 ( 1990)), DEAE-dextran (Gopal, MoI Cell Biol , 5 1 188- 1 190 ( 1985)), electroporation (Tur-Kaspa, et al , MoI Cell Biol , 6 716-718, (1986), Potter, et al , Pi oc Nat Acad Sci USA, 81 7161 -7165, (1984)), direct microinjection (Harland and Weintraub, J Cell Biol , 101 1094-1099 (1985)), DNA-loaded liposomes (Nicolau and Sene, Biochim Bwphys Acta, 121 185-190 (1982), Fraley, et al , Ptoc Natl Acad Sci USA, 76 3348-3352 (1979), Feigner, 5c/ Am , 276(6) 102-6 (1997), Feigner, Hum Gene Ther , 7(15) 1791-3, (1996)), cell sonication (Fechheimer, et al , Proc Natl Acad Sa USA, 84 8463-8467 (1987)), gene bombardment using high velocity microprojectiles (Yang, et al , Proc Natl Acad Sa USA, 87 9568-9572 (1990)), and receptor-mediated transfection (Wu and Wu, J Biol Chem , 262 4429-4432 (1987), Wu and Wu,

Biochemistry, 27 887-892 (1988), Wu and Wu, Adv Drug Delivery Re\ , 12 159-167 (1993))

[00293] In a particular embodiment of the invention, the expression construct (or indeed the peptides discussed above) may be entrapped in a liposome Liposomes are vesicular structures characterized by a phospholipid bilayer membrane and an inner aqueous medium Multilamellar liposomes have multiple lipid layers separated by aqueous medium They form spontaneously when phospholipids are suspended in an excess of aqueous solution The lipid components undergo self-rearrangement before the formation of closed structures and entrap water and dissolved solutes between the lipid bilavers (Ghosh and Bachhawat, "In Liver Diseases, Targeted Diagnosis And Therapy Using

Specific Receptors And Ligands," Wu, G , Wu, C , ed , New York Marcel Dekker, pp 87- 104 ( 1991 )) The addition of DNA to cationic liposomes causes a topological transition from liposomes to optically birefπngent liquid-crystalline condensed globules (Radler, et al, Science, 275(5301 ):810-4, (1997)). These DNA-lipid complexes are potential non- viral vectors for use in gene therapy and delivery.

[00294] Liposome-mediated nucleic acid delivery and expression of foreign DNA in vitro has been very successful. Also contemplated in the present invention are various commercial approaches involving "lipofection" technology. In certain embodiments of the invention, the liposome may be complexed with a hemagglutinating virus (HVJ). This has been shown to facilitate fusion with the cell membrane and promote cell entry of liposome- encapsulated DNA (Kaneda, et al, Science, 243:375-378 (1989)). In other embodiments, the liposome may be complexed or employed in conjunction with nuclear nonhistone chromosomal proteins (HMG-I ) (YLaXo, et al, J. Biol. Chem., 266:3361-3364 (1991 )). In yet further embodiments, the liposome may be complexed or employed in conjunction with both HVJ and HMG-I . In that such expression constructs have been successfully employed in transfer and expression of nucleic acid in vitro and in vivo, then they are applicable for the present invention.

[00295] Other vector delivery systems that can be employed to deliver a nucleic acid encoding a therapeutic gene into cells include receptor-mediated delivery vehicles. These take advantage of the selective uptake of macromolecules by receptor-mediated endocytosis in almost all eukaryotic cells. Because of the cell type-specific distribution of various receptors, the delivery can be highly specific (Wu and Wu (1993), supra).

[00296] Receptor-mediated gene targeting vehicles generally consist of two components: a cell receptor-specific ligand and a DNA-binding agent. Several ligands have been used for receptor-mediated gene transfer. The most extensively characterized ligands are asialoorosomucoid (ASOR) (Wu and Wu (1987), supra) and transferrin (Wagner, et al, Proc. Nat'l. Acad Sci. USA, 87(9):3410-3414 (1990)). Recently, a synthetic neoglycoprotein, which recognizes the same receptor as ASOR, has been used as a gene delivery vehicle (Ferkol, et al, FASEB. J., 7:1081 -1091 (1993); Perales, et al, Proc. Natl Acad. ScI, USA 91 :4086-4090 (1994)) and epidermal growth factor (EGF) has also been used to deliver genes to squamous carcinoma cells (Myers, EPO 0273085).

[00297] In other embodiments, the delivery vehicle may comprise a ligand and a liposome. For example, Nicolau, et al, Methods Enzymol, 149: 157-176 (1987) employed lactosyl-ceramide, a galactose-terminal asialganglioside, incorporated into liposomes and observed an increase in the uptake of the insulin gene by hepatocytes. Thus, it is feasible that a nucleic acid encoding a therapeutic gene also may be specifically delivered into a particular cell type by any number of receptor-ligand systems with or without liposomes.

[00298] In another embodiment of the invention, the expression construct may simply consist of naked recombinant DNA or plasmids. Transfer of the construct may be performed by any of the methods mentioned above that physically or chemically permeabilize the cell membrane. This is applicable particularly for transfer in vitro, however, it may be applied for in vivo use as well. Dubensky, el al., Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA, 81 :7529-7533 (1984) successfully injected polyomavirus DNA in the form Of CaPO4 precipitates into liver and spleen of adult and newborn mice demonstrating active viral replication and acute infection. Benvenisty and Neshif, Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA, 83:9551 -9555 (1986) also demonstrated that direct intraperitoneal injection of CaPO4 precipitated plasmids results in expression of the transfected genes.

[00299] Another embodiment of the invention for transferring a naked DNA expression construct into cells may involve particle bombardment. This method depends on the ability to accelerate DNA coated microprojectiles to a high velocity allowing them to pierce cell membranes and enter cells without killing them (Klein, et al., Nature, 327:70-73 (1987)).

Several devices for accelerating small particles have been developed. One such device relies on a high voltage discharge to generate an electrical current, which in turn provides the motive force (Yang, et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci USA, 87:9568-9572 (1990)). The microprojectiles used have consisted of biologically inert substances such as tungsten or gold beads.

[00300] Those of skill in the art are well aware of how to apply gene delivery to in vivo and ex vivo situations. For viral vectors, one generally will prepare a viral vector stock. Depending on the kind of virus and the titer attainable, one will deliver 1 X 104, 1 X 105, 1 X 106, 1 X 107, 1 X 108, 1 X 109, 1 X 1010, 1 X lθ" or 1 X 1012 infectious particles to the patient. Similar figures may be extrapolated for liposomal or other non-viral formulations by comparing relative uptake efficiencies. Formulation as a pharmaceutically acceptable composition is discussed below.

[00301 ] Various routes are contemplated for various cell types. For practically any cell, tissue or organ type, systemic delivery is contemplated. In other embodiments, a variety of direct, local and regional approaches may be taken For example, the cell, tissue or organ may be directly injected with the expression \ector or protein

[00302] Promoters for gene therapy for use in this in\ ention include cytomegalov irus (CMV) promoter/enhancer, long terminal repeat (LTR) of retroviruses, keratin 14 promoter, and α myosin hea\ y chain promoter

[00303] In a different embodiment, ex \ ι\o gene therapy is contemplated In an ex \ n o embodiment, cells from the patient are removed and maintained outside the body for at least some period of time Duπng this peπod, a therapy is delivered, after which the cells are reintroduced into the patient, preferably, any tumor cells in the sample have been killed

[00304] The techniques, procedures and methods outlined herein are applicable to any and all of the polypeptides and binding constructs of the present invention

D. Immunosuppressive And Other Combination Therapies

[00305] Any one of the binding constructs of the present invention when used in a method of treating or preventing a disease, e g, a graft rejection or arteriosclerosis, may be employed alone, or in combination with other agents In some embodiments, more than one binding construct may be administered In some embodiments, a binding construct may be administered together with an immuno suppressive protein, antibody, nucleic acid, or chemotherapeutic agent

[00306] Preferably, when used in combination with the endothelial growth factor inhibitor binding constructs of the present invention, the results obtained are synergistic That is to say, the effectiveness of the combination therapy of a binding construct and the immunosuppressive agent is synergistic, i e , the effectiveness is greater than the effectiveness expected from the additive individual effects of each Therefore, the dosage of the immunosuppressive compound can be reduced and thus, the πsk of the toxicity problems and other side effects is concomitantly reduced

[00307] Any immunosuppressant therapy that has some efficac> at reducing transplant rejection alone can be used in combination with the inhibitors of the invention, and such combinations are specifically contemplated as combination therapies of the invention [00308] Corticosteroids are generally considered to be a first-line therapy for acute allograft rejection Exemplary corticosteroids include prednisone and prednisolone, which are commonly used for prophylaxis against rejection, and methylprednisolone, which is often used for incidences of acute rejection Dosage of corticosteroids is well developed by those in the field of transplant medicine, and vanes depending on whether presecπbed as initiation or maintenance therapy, and depending on patient tolerance It is contemplated that reduced doses of corticosteroids may be used when combined with the inhibitors of the invention The lower dosing is expected to help reduce known ad\ erse effects of corticosteroids, which include hyperglycemia, diabetes melhrus, edema, hypertension, hyperlipemia, hypokalemia, hirsutism, GI bleeding, arthralgia, osteoporosis, and psychosis

[00309] A second class of immunosuppressants used with transplant patients, and contemplated for combination of therapy of the invention, is calcineuπn inhibitors Representative members of the class include cyclospoπne and tacrolimus These molecules act as immunosuppressive agents by binding to immunophihn molecules to inhibit calcineuπn, and thereby inhibit T cell activation and proliferation The patient's blood/serum and renal and liver functions are monitored to maintain an effectne dose while minimizing toxicity Combination of cyclospoπne with other immunosuppressants is known to cause side-effects and may require dose modulation The main side effects of CNIs are nephrotoxicity and neurotoxicity

[00310] The mTOR inhibitors (mammalian target of rapamycin) represent a third class of immunosuppressants The mTOR inhibitors, which include sirolimus and everohmus, inhibit T cell proliferation Sirolimus has been used extensively in renal transplantation, and can be taken orally Side effects associated with sirolimus therapy include dyslipidemia, hypertension, thrombocytopenia, anemia, peπpheral edema, and tremor

[0031 1 ] Antiproliferative agents represent a fourth class of immunosuppressants, and include azathiopπne A common starting dose for adults is 50 mg per day After 4 to 8 weeks, the dose may be increased Most adults require 50-150 mg per day A dose- dependent bone marrow suppression may occur in over half of patients treated with azathiopnne, and hepatotoxicity has been reported Mycophenolic acid is another antiproliferative, which targets inosine monophosphate dehydrogenase (IMPDH), and causes a relatively selective suppression of lymphocyte proliferation Compared to many of the other immunosuppressants, MPA lacks significant nephrotoxicity. The capsules come in 250 mg and 500 mg and the usual dose for adults is 1 - 1.5 g (2-6 capsules) twice a day. The dose for children is 15 mg/kg/day.

[00312] A fifth class of immunosuppressants used in transplant patients is anti- lymphocyte-depleting antibodies: Induction therapy prior to transplantation and during the first weeks post-transplantation with an antilymphocyte-depleting antibody or an IL-2 receptor (IL-2R) antagonist can provide effective protection against rejection. Polyclonal antilymphocyte-depleting antibodies, ATGAM and Thymoglobulin, sometimes are used after organ transplantation to reduce the risk of acute rejection. These antibodies are directed against T and B lymphocytes, and cause T cell lysis and blockade of B cell activation.

[00313] Muromonab C3 is a monoclonal antibody that is sometimes used in the treatment of acute rejection in transplant recipients. It binds to CD3 expressed on T cells and interferes with T cell antigen recognition.

[00314] IL-2R antagonists represent yet another class of immunosuppressants. Exemplary members of this class include basiliximab (Simulect) and daclizumab (Zenopax). The act by binding to the CD25 subunit of the IL-2R, to block T cell activation. They are used for prophylaxis, rather than treatment, of acute rejection because during acute rejection, T cells may become activated without the involvement of the CD25 subunit on the IL-2 receptor.

[00315] Mercaptopurine (6-MP) belongs to a group of drugs known as antimetabolites. It is used to treat many types of autoimmune diseases. It may interfere with the normal menstrual cycle in women and may stop sperm production in men. The usual adult dose is 2.5 mg/kg/day (100-200 mg). The pediatric dose is 50 mg per day. A maintenance dosage after remission is 1.5-2.5 mg/kg/day.

[00316] The foregoing list is not intended to be limiting. Inhibitors of the invention can be co-administered with any immunosuppressive agent to benefit from their complementary effects.

[00317] Other exemplary therapies to combine with therapies that target endothelial growth factors and growth factor receptors include those described in International Application No. PCT/ EP2004/012406 (WO 2005/049021 ), incorporated herein by reference in its entirety, relating to a combination of an inhibitor of a mammalian Target of Rapamycin (mTOR), such as rapamycin; and an inhibitor of a Platelet-Derived Growth Factor Receptor (PDGF-R), such as imatinib mesylate.

[00318] mTOR inhibitors include, but are not limited to the following drugs:

[00319]

[00320] In addition to rapamycin and those derivatives of rapamycin listed in the above table those discussed in U.S. Pat. Appl. No. 20030170287 may also be used. See also WO 94/09010, and WO 96/41807. Rapamycin derivatives may also include without limitation "rapalogs," e.g., as disclosed in WO 98/02441 and WO01/14387; deuterated rapamycin analogs, e.g., as disclosed in U.S. Pat. 6,503,921. Derivatives of other mTOR inhibitors are also contemplated.

[00321 ] Exemplary Platelet-Derived Growth Factor Receptor (PDGF-R) inhibitors include the following without limitation:

[00322]

[00323]

[00324] The above list of PDGF-R inhibitors is not meant to be limiting. Any PDGF-R inhibitor may be employed, including without limitation PDGF-R inhibitors described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,932,580, 6,331 ,555, and 6,358,954; WO 99/28304; WO 00/09098; WO 01/64200. Other inhibitors that may be used include 3-Substituted Indolin-2-ones (e.g., SU5416, SU6668), and derivatives thereof (Sun et al., J. Med. Chem., 41 :2588-2603; Sun et al., J. Med. Chem. 43:2655-2663 (2000)); 2-Amino-8H-pyrido[2,3-d]pyrimidines (Boschelli et al., J. Med. Chem. 41 :4365-4377 (1998)).

[00325] In some embodiments, the PDGF-R inhibitor is a compound described in U.S. Patent No. 5,521 , 184, incorporated herein by reference.

[00326] In addition to or in substitution for PDGF-R inhibitors, inhibitors of other tyrosine kinases (receptors and other types as well) may also be used in accordance with this invention. Some of these inhibitors may inhibit multiple kinases including, but not limited to, PDGF-Rs. Appropriate TK inhibitors are also taught in WO 99/03854; WO 01/64200; US 5,521 ,184; WO 00/42042; WO 00/09098; EP 0 564 409 Bl ; US 5,521 ,184; WO 97/32604; US 6,610,688; US Patent Appl. Pub. No. 20030194749; Livitzki, A., et al., "Protein Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors as Novel Therapeutic Agents, " Pharmacol. Ther. 82:231-29 (1999). Other classes of compounds may also be employed. For example and without limitation, Lefiunomide (U.S. 4284786) and/or derivative FK778 may be used. {See, e.g., Savikko Transplantation 2003:76:455 and editorial Williams ibid p 471.)

[00327]

E. Suitable Transplant Recipients

[00328] The present invention is applicable to all cell, tissue, organ fragment, organ, and multi-organ transplant procedures, to inhibit or delay rejection reactions or other undesired side-effects, including arteriosclerosis, that are associated with transplants. Thus, the invention is applicable to any mammal that receives any cell, tissue, organ fragment, organ, or multi-organ transplant. [00329] Exemplary transplants include autografts (transplant or transfer of tissue from an organism to itself, e.g., where donor and recipient are the same organism); isografts (transplants from a donor organism to a genetically identical recipient (e.g., an identical twin or a clone); allografts (transplants from a donor organism to a genetically non- identical organism of the same species); and xenografts (transplants of organs or tissue from one species to another). All of these types of transplants are theoretically possible in humans, although xenografts have thus far been fairly limited (e.g., heart valves), and isograft donors are quite rare. Thus, in the context of transplantation of vital organs or tissues to replace diseased ones, allograft transplants represent the most common class for human therapy. The likelihood of rejection or graft arteriosclerosis increases as the differences between donor and recipient increase.

[00330] Exemplary organs that have been transplanted in humans, and for which the methods of the invention are especially applicable, include thoracic organs (e.g., heart, lung); abdominal organs (e.g., liver, kidney, pancreas, small intestine). The invention also is applicable for various tissue and cell transplants, including but not limited to pancreatic islet cells, bone marrow cells, cardiac myocytes, blood vessels or vessel fragments, heart valves, bones, and skin. The invention also is applicable to the emergent fields of transplantation of embryonic stem cells and various pluripotent or multipotent progenitor or precursor cells that have the potential to differentiate into one or more cell types (e.g., hematopoietic progenitor/stem cells, neural progenitor/stem cells, endothelial progenitor cells, and muscle progenitor cells).

[00331 ]

F. Transplant Rejection and Monitoring of Transplanted Tissue

[00332] After surgery, the transplanted cell, tissue or organ is carefully monitored for any signs that the recipient will reject the new cell, tissue or organ. There are three main types of transplant rejections: (1 ) hyperacute. (2) acute, and (3) chronic transplant rejections.

[00333] Hyperacute rejection is a complement-mediated response in recipients with preexisting antibodies to the donor (for example, ABO blood type antibodies). Hyperacute rejection occurs within minutes and the transplant must be immediately removed to prevent a severe systemic inflammatory response. Rapid coagulation of the blood occurs. This is a particular risk in kidney transplants, and so a prospective cytotoxic crossmatch is performed pπor to kidney transplantation to ensure that antibodies to the donor are not present For other organs, hyperacute rejection is prevented by transplanting only ABO- compatible grafts Hyperacute rejection is the likely outcome of xenotransplanted organs

[00334] Acute rejection is generally acknowledged to be mediated by T cell responses to proteins from the donor organ, which differ from those found in the recipient Unlike antibody-mediated hyperacute rejection, development of T cell responses first occurs several days after a transplant if the patient is not taking immunosuppressant drugs Since the development of powerful immunosuppressive drugs, such as those discussed above, the incidence of acute rejection has been greatly decreased However, organ transplant recipients can de\ elop acute rejection episodes months to years after transplantation Acute rejection episodes can destroy the transplant if it is not recognized and treated appropπately A single episode is not a cause for grave concern if recognized and treated promptly, and rarely leads to organ failure, but recurrent episodes are associated with chronic rejection of grafts

[00335] The bulk of the immune system response is to the Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) proteins MHC proteins are involved in the presentation of foreign antigens to T cells, and receptors on the surface of the T cell (TCR) are uniquely suited to recognition of proteins of this type MHC are highly variable between individuals, and therefore the T cells from the donor recognize the foreign MHC with a very high frequency, leading to powerful immune responses that cause rejection of transplanted tissue Identical twins and cloned tissue are MHC matched, and are therefore not subject to T cell mediated rejection

[00336] The term "chronic rejection" is used when the process is shown to be due to a chronic alloreactive immune response It can be caused by a member of the Minor Histocompatibility Complex such as the H-Y gene of the male Y chromosome, and usually leads to the need for a new organ after a decade or so.

[00337] Cardiac Allograft \ asculopathy (CAV), also known as chronic cardiac rejection or transplant coronary artery disease, is the main factor limiting the long term success of heart transplants, and most likely involves both immunological and non-immunological factors (Al-Khaldi et al , Annu Rev. Med , 57 455-471 , 2006, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference) Identified πsk factors include older donor and recipient age, ischemia-reperfusion injury, human leukocyte antigen (HLA) mismatch, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, insulin resistance, cytomegalo\ irus infection, and recurrent rejection (Taylor et al , J Heart Lung Transplant , 23 796-803, 2004, Valantine et al , Circ , 103 2144-2152, 2001 , Costanzo-Nordin et al , J Heart Lung Transplant., 1 1 S9O-1O3, 1992, Grattan et al , JAMA, 261 3561 -3566, 1989, Kobashigawa et al , J Heart Lung Transplant , 14 S221 -S226, 1995, and Valantine, H., J Heart Lung Transplant , 23.S 187- S 193, 2004) These πsk factors may lead directly or indirectly to endothelial injury with subsequent intimal hyperplasia and vascular smooth muscle proliferation

[00338] Monitoring of heart transplant recipients for the development of allograft rejection includes non-invasive methods such as intramyocardial electrocardiogram (Hetzer et al , Ann Thorac Surg 66 1343, 1998) and echocardiography, radioisotope techniques, magnetic resonance imaging and immunological methods (Kemkes et al , J Heart Lung Transplant 1 1 S221 -31 , 1992) The immunological methods include the measurement of serum cytokine levels, particularly IL6 and IL8 (Kimball et al , Transplantation 61 909- 15, 1996), monitoπng recipient serum for donor HLA antigens and anti-HLA antibodies (Reed et al , Transplantation 61 566-72, 1996), and measuπng reactivity of allo-reactive helper T cells (DeBruyne, Transplantation 56 722-7, 1993), or cytotoxic T cells in the blood of the recipient (Reader et al Transplantation 50 29-33, 1990; Loonen et al., Transplant Int 7 596-598, 1994) Invasive methods include an endomyocardial biopsy, which detects an ongoing immune rejection process that may have already damaged the heart before immunosuppressive intervention has been initiated. Non-invasive methods are associated with the detection of ongoing damage in the heart muscle and thus, may come too late for the preferred goal in improving the care of the transplant recipient: early prevention of the developing rejection episode

[00339] The monitoπng methods used in other organ allograft recipients are also directed to detection of damage to the transplanted organ With respect to kidney allograft recipients, noninvasive methods include the functional indicators of impaired renal activity, such as (a) decreased uπne \olume, (b) decreased clearance of creatinine and (c) elevated blood urea nitrogen Monitoπng includes detection of lymphocytes in the uπne (Salaman, Immunol Lett 29 139-12, 1991 ), secretion of neopteπn (a pteπdine from stimulated macrophages) and interferon-gamma (a cytokine released by activated T cells) (Khoss et al Child Nephrol Urol 9 46-49, 1988; Grebe et al., Curr Drug Metabol 3: 189-202, 2002) The sensitivity of detection of inflammatory products in the uπne was further improved by measuring the presence of inRNA for perforin and granzyme B (proteins released from T cells that damage target cells), using the reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) for amplification and detection of these molecules (Li et al., N Engl J Med 344: 947-954, 2001 ).

V. NON-EXCLUSIVE EXAMPLES OF THE INVENTION

[00340] The invention may be more readily understood by reference to the following examples, which are given to illustrate the invention and not in any way to limit its scope. The first several examples describe making and testing inhibitor compounds useful to practicing methods of the invention. The second group of examples describe evidence that the antigens are suitable targets for therapy and/or evidence that such therapy is efficacious. These examples primarily make reference to binding constructs that bind particular growth factors of the VEGF subfamily, but they may also be adapted for use of binding constructs that bind other VEGF subfamily members, as well as for binding constructs that bind PDGF subfamily members. Similarly, binding constructs comprising other VEFGR receptor fragments, PDGFR receptor fragments, and neuropilin receptor fragments may also be employed in variations of these examples.

EXAMPLE 1

VEGFR-2 AND VEGFR-3 FRAGMENTS THAT BIND VEGF-A OR VEGF-C

[00341] To determine the portion of a receptor's extracellular domain (ECD) that was sufficient for ligand binding, fragments of the ECDs of VEGFR-2 (R-2) and VEGFR-3 (R- 3) were used to make various soluble constructs. The constructs included Fc domain human IgG fragments fused to the C-terminus of the receptor fragments. As indicated in Tables 3 and 4, some constructs were made using a heterologous (N-terminal) signal peptide derived from CD33.

[00342] Construction of Fragments and Plasmids

[00343] R-2 Constructs

[00344] To construct the VEGFR-2/IgG expression plasmid, the construct, R-2 A, comprising the first three Ig-domains (Dl -3) of VEGFR-2 was amplified by PCR using primers 5 '-GCGGATCCTTGCCTAGTGTTTCTCTTGATC-S ' (SEQ ID NO: 72), and 5'- CCAGTCACCTGCTCCGGATCTTCATGGACCCTGACAAATG-S' (SEQ ID NO: 73), and cloned into the Signal plgplus vector (Novagen, Madison, WI). The resulting plasmid was digested with BamHI and Kpnl, treated with T4 polymerase and back-ligated. To assemble other VEGFR-2/IgG constructs, PCRs were performed using the D 1 -3 construct as the template, T7 forward primer and the following reverse primers:

5'-GCTGGATCTTGAACATAGACATAAATG-S' (R-2 F), (SEQ ID NO:

59),

5'-CTAGGATCCCCTACAACGACAACTATG^' (R-2 B), (SEQ ID NO:

60), 5'-CTAGGATCCACATCATAAATCCTATAC-S' (R-2 C), (SEQ ID NO:

61 ),

5'-GCATGGTCTCGGATCATGAGAAGACGGACTCAGAAC-S' (R-2 D), (SEQ ID NO: 62),

5'-CTAGGATCCTTTTCTCCAACAGATAG-S' (R-2 E) (SEQ ID NO: 63); forward primer 5'-AGCGCTAGCGTTCAAGATTACAGATCTCC-S' (SEQ

ID NO: 64), and the following reverse primers:

5'-ATGTGTGAGGTTTTGCACAAG-S' (R-2 G), (SEQ ID NO:65),

S'-CTAGGATCCCCTACAACGACAACTATG-S' (R-2 H), (SEQ ID NO: 66), 5'-CTAGGATCCACATCAT AAATCCT ATAC-3' (R-2 I), (SEQ ID NO:

67),

5'-GCATGGTCTCGGATCATGAGAAGACGGACTCAGAAC-S' (R-2 J), (SEQ ID NO: 68),

5'-CTAGGATCCTTTTCTCCAACAGATAG-S' (R-2 K), (SEQ ID NO: 69), forward primer 5'-AGCGCTAGCTATAGGATTTATGATGTG-S' (SEQ ID NO: 70), and reverse primer

5'-ATGTGTGAGGTTTTGCACAAG-3' (R-2 L), (SEQ ID NO: 71).

[00345] The PCR products were digested with Nhel and BstYI (R-2 F and L constructs), Nhel and BamHI (R-2 E, and H-K constructs), BamHI (R-2 linker B and C constructs), BamHI and Bsal (R-2 D construct), or Nhel and BsmBI (R-2 G construct), and cloned into the Signal plgplus vector. In order to repair frame-shifts in constructs containing nucleotide sequence coding for domain 1 of VEGFR-2, the vectors were cut with restriction enzyme Notl, blunted with Klenow enzyme, cut with EcoRV and back-ligated.

[00346] R-3 Constructs

[00347] A series of R-3 constructs with C-termini between Ig domains 2 and 3 of VEGFR-3 (R-3 C through F constructs) was created by PCR using the expression plasmid comprising the R-3 D 1 -3 transcript (e.g., the R-3 G construct, SEQ ID NO: 43) as template, T7 as forward primer and the following reverse primers:

[00348] 5'-TCAGGATCCGCGAGCTCGTTGCCTG-S " (SEQ ID NO: 74),

[00349] 5'-TACAGGATCCCCTGTGATGTGCACCAG-S " (SEQ ID NO: 75),

[00350] 5"-TCAGGATCCGCGTGCACCAGGAAGG-S ' (SEQ ID NO: 76), and

[00351 ] 5'-TCAGGATCCGCGAAGGGGTTGGAAAG^ '(SEQ ID NO: 77).

[00352] The Ig homology domain 1 was deleted from the D 1 -3 expression plasmid (R-3 G construct) by site-directed mutagenesis using primers

[00353] 5'CCTTGAACATCACGGAGGAGTCACACGTCAGAGACTTTGAGCAGCC ATTCATCAACAAGC-3' (SEQ ID NO: 78) and

[00354] 5' AGCTGCTGGTAGGGGAGAAGGATCCTG AACTGCACCGTGTGG-3' (SEQ ID NO: 79), and excision of the BamH I fragment from the resulting plasmid. That procedure combined with the described truncation primers, for R-3 C through F constructs, allows for the production of the R-3 constructs (e.g., C, D, E, F, J, K, L, and M). The plasmid coding for domains 2 and 3 of VEGFR-3 (R-3 I) was made by transfer of the Sph I fragment from the original expression R-3 D 1-3 plasmid into the plasmid encoding only domain 2 of VEGFR-3 (R-3 J). The sequence derived from a particular receptor is listed in Table 2. Expression was performed using standard calcium phosphate-mediated transfection into 293T cells.

[00355] The binding assays utilized minimal VEGF-A (SEQ ID NOS: 106 and 107) and VEGF-C (SEQ ID NOS: 108 and 109) fragments with 109 residues each (called VEGF-A 109 and VEGF-C 109). These constructs are not naturally occurring, but are effective for binding assays Other growth factor constructs, either natural or artificial, may also be used for performing these assays

[00356] Either Tπtiated VEGF-A 109 or VEGF-C 109 was used in a given binding experiment Ligand in solution was precipitated by mixing 175 μl of ligand solution with 100 μl binding mix at 40C overnight, with agitation The ligand solution may be the supernatant of metabolically labeled 293T cells The binding mixes used for the receptor binding analysis were as follows for VEGFR-I binding assays, the binding mix was phosphate buffered saline (PBS) containing 1 5% BSA, 0 06% Tween 20, 3 μg/ml hepaπn and 400 ng/ml VEGFR-I-Fc fusion protein (100 μl of this binding mix was added to 200 μl of ligand solution) For VEGFR-2 binding assays, the binding mix was 82% conditioned cell supernatant from 293T cells transiently expressing VEGFR-2-Fc fusion protein in mixture with 18% of a PBS solution that contained 5% BSA, 0 2% Tween 20, and 10 μg/ml hepaπn (250 μl of binding mix was added to 200 μl of ligand solution) For VEGFR-3 binding assays, the binding mix was 82% conditioned cell supernatant from 293T cells transiently expressing VEGFR-3-Fc fusion protein, 18% of PBS containing 5% BSA, 0 2% Tween 20, and 10 μg/ml hepaπn (250 μl of binding mix was added to 200 μl of ligand solution) To collect precipitated ligand, 50 μl of a 30% protein A sepharose (PAS, Pharmacia) slurry in PBS was added and incubated under agitation for at least 1.5 hr at 40C Standard buffer was added to each immunoprecipitation sample and boiled for 5 minutes at 950C dunng which the immunopreciptated proteins become dissociated from the protein A sepharose After centπfugation, 10 μl of each sample was analyzed on 15% SDS-PAGE under reducing conditions The gels were dπed and exposed for either 12 hours on phosphoπmager plates or 4 weeks on X-ray film

[00357] Tables 3 and 4 identify constructs by name, a DNA and deduced amino acid sequence from the sequence listing, the portion of VEGFR-2 (SEQ ID NO: 4) or VEGFR-3 (SEQ ID NO 6) amino acid sequence that was included in the constructs, whether the constructs expressed, and, if tested, whether constructs bound ligand. The table data is compiled from analysis of PAGE gels The asteπsk adjacent to the "B*" indicates a "spill- o\ er" from the adjacent lane, as the oπgin of the bands seen in the "B" lane A failure to express under the particular expeπmental conditions used in this instance should not be interpreted as a failure to bind. The experiments can be repeated using different receptor fragments, binding constructs, ligands, or combinations thereof. TABLE 3: VEGFR-2 CONSTRUCTS

TABLE 4: VEGFR-3 CONSTRUCTS

[00358]

[00359] The results of these assays demonstrate that novel receptor fragments are capable of binding ligands that the receptor as a whole may bind. In addition to providing a clearer picture as to what regions of the ECD are necessary for ligand binding, the binding data identifies receptor fragments useful as therapeutics.

[00360] The present data show that the R-2 H fragment of R-2 of approximately 100 residues and spanning D2 of R-2 is sufficient for VEGF-C binding. For R-3, a larger fragment is required for VEGF-C binding, e.g., the R-3 D construct in table 4, which spans Dl-2 of R-3. [00361 ] Three-dimensional modeling based on the structure of VEGFR-I complexed with VEGF-A was used to predict that a groove in VEGF-C might accommodate the region between Ig-like domains 2 and 3 of VEGFR-3 (Flt4). WO 01/62942. The present data shows for the first time that sequence intermediate between the second and third Ig domains of R-3 is important for ligand binding.

[00362] For R- I and R-2, the first Ig-domain has been described as inhibitory for VEGF- A binding. Lu, et al., J. Biol. Chem., 275(19): 14321 -14330 (2000); Shinkai, A. et al., J. Biol. Chem., 273(47):31283-88 (1998). For VEGF-C binding, the present data show that the inhibitory role of the first Ig-domain appears to apply to R-2 fragments, but not R-3 fragments.

[00363] The data also provides novel information regarding R-2 fragments and VEGF-A binding. Conflicting reports exist for constructs comprising the second and third Ig- domains of R-2 and VEGF-A binding. Fuh, et al. , J. Biol. Chem., 273(18): 1 1 197- 1 1204 (1998); Niwa, et al., U.S. Pat. No. 6,348,333; Shinkai, A. et al., J. Biol. Chem., 273(47):31283-88 (1998). Fuh reported that only domains 2 and 3 were needed. Niwa taught that only 1 and 2 were needed. Shinkai stressed the importance of domain 4 of R-2. The issue is further confused because different reports have defined the boundaries of the Ig-domains in different ways, i.e., different start and stop points, a practice that has been recognized as potentially affecting whether fragments bind ligands, and with what degree of affinity. Shinkai, A. et al., J. Biol. Chem., 273(47):31283-88 (1998).

EXAMPLE 2

LIGAND BINDING ASSAYS INVOLVING BINDING CONSTRUCTS WITH MORE THAN ONE BINDING ELEMENT

[00364] The assays as performed in Example 1 are repeated, substituting a binding construct with multiple binding units. For example, one employs a binding construct comprising a binding unit that binds VEGF-A and a binding unit that binds VEGF-C. One looks for the ability of such a binding construct to bind both VEGF-A and VEGF-C. This information may be obtained by using different radio- or other labels, e.g., fluorescent labels for fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET), on each type of ligand or use of labels on the binding construct and or ligands, to determine whether a given binding construct molecules are binding a molecule of VEGF-A and VEGF-C. Constructs that are shown to bind more than one growth factor ligand, as well as those described in Example 1 and elsewhere herein, have an indication for anti-neoplastic therapies where multiple growth factors contribute to neoplastic cell growth.

[00365]

EXAMPLE 3 CHIMERIC VEGFR BINDING CONSTRUCTS WHICH BIND MULTIPLE

LIGANDS

[00366] As stated above, constructs that bind more than one growth factor ligand have an indication as anti-neoplastic therapies where multiple growth factors contribute to neoplastic cell growth. In order to determine the efficacy of a binding construct designed to bind more than one growth factor, two chimeric binding constructs were generated and their ability of each to bind to two growth factors was measured.

[00367] The binding constructs were designed as immunoblobulin fusion proteins as described above. To construct chimeric VEGF receptor/hlgGl Fc fusion proteins, the plgPlus vector was used to build a construct comprising the first immunoglobulin-like domain of VEGFR-3 and the second and third Ig-like domains of VEGFR-2. The construct is designated R-3Dl -R2D2+3/hIgGl Fc. To clone the R-3Dl -R2D2+3/hIgGl Fc construct, PCR was performed with CMV forward primer (18782, 5' TACTTGGCAGTACATCTACGTATTAGTCATCGC-S') (SEQ ID NO: 122) and reverse primer v360 (5'-CGGAGATCTGTAGTCTTGCACGTACACGTAGGAGCTGGC-S') (SEQ ID NO: 123) using plgPlus-hVEGFR-3Dl-3 -IgGlFc as a template. The PCR- product was cut with SnaBI and BgIII. The 718 bp Dl-R2D2+3/hIgGlFc insert was ligated into the SnaBI- and partially Bglll-cut vector plgPlus-hVEGFR-2D 1 -3-IgG 1 Fc described above. The presence and sequence of the correct insert was confirmed by sequencing a representative isolated hVEGFR-3Dl-R2D2+3/hIgGl Fc clone (clone #2). (SEQ ID NO: 124 and SEQ ID NO: 125).

[00368] In addition to the above chimeric construct, a chimeric VEGF receptor/hlgGl Fc fusion protein- was constructed having the first Ig-like domain of VEGFR-3, the second Ig- like domain of VEGFR-2 and the third Ig-like domain of VEGFR-I . The construct is designated R-3Dl-R2D2-Rl D3/hIgGl Fc.

[00369] To clone the pIgPlus-hVEGFR-3Dl-R2D2-Rl D3/hIgGl Fc construct, PCR was performed using p!gPlus-hVEGFR-3Dl-R2D2+3/hIgGl Fc as a template and the T7 forward and reverse primer v362 (5'-

TACAATTGAGGACAAGCGTATGTCCACGAAGTAGTTTAACTGGACGAGGCGTG CTTATTTGCACATCAT AAATCCTATACC-3') (SEQ ID NO: 126). The PCR-product was cut with HindIII and Mfel/Munl. The 787 bp VEGFR-3Dl -R2D2+3/hIgGl Fc insert was ligated into the HindIII- and partially Mfel-cut vector plgPlus-hVEGFR- l Dl -3- IgGl Fc. The presence and sequence of the correct chimeric insert was confirmed by sequencing the a representative hVEGFR-3Dl -R2D2-Rl D3/hIgGlFc clone (clone #6) (SEQ ID NO: 127 and SEQ ID NO: 128).

Expression of chimeric VEGFR/hlgGl Fc fusions: [00370] For expression analysis, the two new chimeric VEGF receptors and control constructs expressing R- 1 D 1 -3/hIgG 1 Fc, R-2D 1 -3/hIgG 1 Fc, R-3D 1 -3/hIgG 1 Fc, mature VEGF-C and VEGF-Ai 65 were transiently transfected into 293T cells using JetPEI (QBioGene/MP Biomedicals, Irvine, CA). Metabolic labeling with 35S-methionine and 5S-cysteine was carried out at 48 hours post-transfection and labeling maintained for 24 hours. The serum-free conditioned medium was then immunoprecipitated using Protein A sepharose and either: a) specific antiserum against human mature VEGF-C; b) goat polyclonal antibody against human VEGF-A (R&D systems, Minneapolis, MN); or, c) serum-free medium of 293T cells taken 48 to 72 hours post-transient transfection with VEGF receptor/hlgGl Fc proteins (control proteins, R-1D1 -3, R-2D1-3, R-3D1-3; chimeric proteins, R-3D1 -R2D2+3 and R-3D1 -R2D2-R1D3).

[00371 ] The immunoprecipitated fractions were analyzed on 17% SDS-PAGE and the dried gels were exposed for 12 hours on phosphoimager plates or 36 hours on X-ray films. Expression analysis demonstrated that the chimeric receptor fusion proteins exhibited high expression levels in transfected 293 T cells.

Analysis of binding properties of chimeric VEGF receptor/hlgGlFc fusions:

[00372] Ligand binding analysis was performed as described for the VEGF-C/VEGF-A hybrid growth factors in Example 1. Briefly, the unlabeled conditioned medium of transiently transfected 293T cells expressing the chimeric VEGFR/IgGl Fc fusion proteins was used to precipitate the 35S metabolically labeled mature VEGF-C, full-length VEGF-C, and VEGF-Ai65. SDS-PAGE of ligands immunoprecipitated with chimeric and control VEGFR/IgFc showed that the R-3D1-R2D2-R1D3/Ig chimeric protein strongly bound both VEGF-A and VEGF-C, as predicted based on the VEGFR2 and Rl immunoglobulin domains. In one experiment, the chimeric construct R-3Dl-R2D2+3/Ig exhibited binding to VEGF-C and not VEGF-A. A second experiment with the R-3Dl -R2D2+3/Ig construct showed only weak binding to VEGF-A.

[00373] These results demonstrate that the ligand binding constructs generated herein are useful in developing compositions that bind multiple growth factors involved in numerous cell activities. These constructs provide promising therapy for diseases such as cancer and other proliferative diseases wherein multiple growth factors mediate the condition or disease state.

[00374]

EXAMPLE 4

ASSAY FOR NEUTRALIZATION OF GROWTH FACTOR ACTIVITY

[00375] The following protocol provides an assay to determine whether a binding construct neutralizes one or more PDGF/VEGF growth factors by preventing the growth factor(s) from stimulating phosphorylation of its receptor.

[00376] Cells such as NIH 3T3 cells are transformed or transfected with a cDNA encoding a PDGFR/VEGFR receptor, such as VEGFR-3, and cultured under conditions where the encoded receptor is expressed on the surface of the cells. Transfected cells are cultured with either 1) plain growth medium; 2) growth medium supplemented with 50 ng/ml of one or more ligands for the recombinant receptor, such as fully processed VEGF- C and/or VEGF-D, which are ligands for VEGFR-3; 3) growth medium supplemented with 50 ng/ml of growth factor that does not bind the recombinant receptor (e.g., VEGF-A in the case of VEGFR-3), to serve as a control; or any of (1), (2), or (3) that is first pre-incubated with varying concentrations of a binding construct to be tested.

[00377] After culturing with the culture mediums described above in the presence or absence of the binding construct, the cells are lysed, immunoprecipitated using anti- receptor (e.g., anti-VEGFR-3) antiserum, and analyzed by Western blotting using anti- phosphotyrosine antibodies. Cells stimulated with the appropriate growth factor ligand (VEGF-C/D) stimulate VEGFR-3 autophosphorylation, which is detected with the anti- phosphotyrosine antibodies. Binding constructs that reduce or eliminate the ligand- mediated stimulation of receptor phosphorylation (e.g., in a dose-dependent manner) are considered neutralizing binding constructs. EXAMPLE 5 EPO CHIMERA SURVIVAL/PROLIFERATION BLOCKING ASSAY

[00378] A binding construct is tested for the ability to block the binding of the growth factor(s) to their receptors, using bioassays of receptor binding and cross-linking. These assays involve the use of Ba/F3 pre-B cells which have been transfected with plasmid constructs encoding chimeric receptors consisting of the extracellular domain of growth factor receptors and the cytoplasmic domain of the erythropoietin receptor (Stacker, SA. et al., J. Biol. Chem. 274:34884-34892, 1999; Achen, MG. et al., Eur. J. Biochem. 267:2505- 2515, 2000). These cells are routinely passaged in interleukin-3 (IL-3) and will die in the absence of IL-3. However, if signaling is induced from the cytoplasmic domain of the chimeric receptors, these cells survive and proliferate in the absence of IL-3. Such signaling is induced by ligands which bind and cross-link the extracellular domains of the chimeric receptors. Therefore binding of a growth factor ligand to the extracellular domains of the chimeric receptors causes the cells to survive and proliferate in the absence of IL-3. Addition of binding constructs that block the binding of growth factor to the extracellular domains will cause cell death in the absence of IL-3. An alternative Ba/F3 cell line which expresses a chimeric receptor containing the extracellular domain of the Tie2 receptor (that does not bind VEGF family members) is not induced by the relevant growth factors to proliferate and is used, in the presence of IL-3, as a control to test for non-specific effects of potential inhibitors.

[00379] In an exemplary assay, a binding construct that can bind VEGF-A and VEGF-C is tested. Samples of purified VEGF-A and VEGF-C are incubated with varying amounts of the binding construct for one hour at 40C in PBS before dilution of the mixtures 1 : 10 with IL-3 -deficient cell culture medium. Ba/F3 cell lines expressing receptor(s) capable of binding the growth factors are then incubated in the media for 48 hours at 370C. To measure DNA synthesis in th cells, 1 μCi of 3H-thymidine is added and the cells are incubated for 4 hours prior to harvesting. Incorporated 3H-thymidine is measured using a cell harvester (Tomtec®) and beta counting. The ability of the binding construct to block growth factor-mediated cell growth and survival (as measured by DNA synthesis) is analyzed relative to the control Tie2 cell line in the presence of IL-3. Growth inhibition in the experimental group relative to the control group demonstrates that the binding construct blocks cell growth, presumably by blocking the binding and cross-linking of receptors by growth factor ligands at the cell surface. EXAMPLE 6 EFFECT OF BINDING CONSTRUCTS ON BCE MIGRATION

[00380] Solutions containing growth factors pre-incubated alone or with varying concentrations of a binding construct are placed in wells made in collagen gel and used to stimulate the migration of bovine capillary endothelial (BCE) cells in the gel as follows. A further control comprising neither growth factor ligand nor binding construct may also be employed, as may a control with just binding construct. Binding constructs that cause a decrease in migration (relative to when growth factor alone is employed) have an indication as therapeutics to prevent or retard angiogenesis.

[00381 ] BCE cells (Folkman et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. (USA), 76:5217-5221 (1979)) are cultured as described in Pertovaara et al., J. Biol. Chem., 269:6271 -74 (1994). These or other cells employed may be transformed with growth factor receptor if not already expressed. For testing of VEGF-A/VEGF-C binding constructs, cells would be transformed with both VEGFR-2 and/or VEGFR-3. The collagen gels are prepared by mixing type I collagen stock solution (5 mg/ml in 1 mM HCl) with an equal volume of 2x MEM and 2 volumes of MEM containing 10% newborn calf serum to give a final collagen concentration of 1.25 mg/ml. The tissue culture plates (5 cm diameter) are coated with about 1 mm thick layer of the solution, which is allowed to polymerize at 370C. BCE cells were seeded on top of this layer. For the migration assays, the cells are allowed to attach inside a plastic ring (1 cm diameter) placed on top of the first collagen layer. After 30 minutes, the ring is removed and unattached cells are rinsed away. A second layer of collagen and a layer of growth medium (5% newborn calf serum (NCS)), solidified by 0.75% low melting point agar (FMC BioProducts, Rockland, ME), are added. A well (3 mm diameter) is punched through all the layers on both sides of the cell spot at a distance of 4 mm, and the sample or control solutions are pipetted daily into the wells.

Photomicrographs of the cells migrating out from the spot edge are taken after six days through an Olympus CK 2 inverted microscope equipped with phase-contrast optics. The migrating cells are counted after nuclear staining with the fluorescent dye bisbenzimide (1 mg/ml, Hoechst 33258, Sigma).

[00382] The number of cells migrating at different distances from the original area of attachment towards wells containing sample solutions are determined 6 days after addition of the media. The number of cells migrating out from the original ring of attachment is counted in five adjacent 0.5 mm x 0.5 mm squares using a microscope ocular lens grid and 1 Ox magnification with a fluorescence microscope Cells migrating further than O 5 mm are counted in a similar way by moung the grid in 0 5 mm steps The experiments are earned out twice with similar results Dail> addition of 1 ng of FGF2 into the wells may be employed as a positn e control for cell migration

[00383]

Example 7 Suppression of VEGFR-3 Signalling Pathway Improves Allograft Survival

[00384] Expeπments described herein elucidate the role of lymphatic vessels and their pπncipal growth signalling pathway, VEGF-C/VEGFR-3, in expeπmental cardiac allograft alloimmunity and arteriosclerosis We found functional lymphatic vessels in rat cardiac allografts that co-expressed LYVE-I , Prox-1 , VEGFR-3 and chemokine CCL21 , and were active in transfemng antigen presenting cells (APC) Chronic rejection enhanced the number of graft-infiltrating VEGF-C+ inflammatory cells, and induced myocardial lymphangiogenesis Lymphatic EC almost exclusively originated from donor-derived cells Systemic VEGFR-3 inhibition with VEGFR-3-Ig gene delivery reduced allograft CCL21 production, alloimmune activation, and improved cardiac allograft survival of recipients receiving suboptimal cyclospoπne A immunosuppression m a mouse chronic rejection model, treatment with neutralizing VEGFR-3 antibodies reduced allograft CCL21 production, inflammation and arteriosclerosis Collectively, our results indicate interplay of inflammation and lymphangiogenesis in cardiac allografts Moreover, VEGFR-3 inhibition reduced APC trafficking possibly through direct DC-mediated and indirect CCL21 mediated effects VEGFR-3 inhibition may thus be used as a novel non-T cell-targeted induction therapy to regulate alloimmune activation after solid organ transplantation

Methods [00385] Expeπmental design

[00386] The effect of heart transplantation on the expression of lymphatic endothelial markers and lymphatic growth factors was investigated using a rat heterotopic heart transplantation model comparing non-transplanted hearts, acutely and chronically- rejecting cardiac allografts, and syngenic controls. Marker gene transgenic mice were used to determine the origin of VEGFR-3+ lymphatic EC in chronically- rejecting mouse cardiac allografts The functional role of VEGFR-3 singalhng in alloimmune responses was investigated by perfusing rat cardiac allograft recipients intrapotally with an adenovirally expressed soluble VEGFR-3 receptor extracellular domain (Ad.VEGFR-3-Ig) that traps VEGFR-3 ligands. Neutralizing monoclonal VEGFR-3 antibodies (VEGFR-3 mAb) were used to confirm the effect of VEGFR-3 inhibition on lymphangiogenesis and inflammation-driven arteriosclerosis in chronically-rejecting mouse cardiac allografts. Permission for animal experimentation was obtained from the State Provincial Office of Southern Finland. The mice and rats received care in compliance with the "Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals" prepared by the National Academy of Sciences and published by the National Academy Press (ISBN 0-309-05377-3, revised 1996).

[00387] Rat and Mouse Heterotopic Heart Transplantation Model

[00388] Specific pathogen-free inbred male Dark Agouti (DA, RTl avl ) and Wistar Furth (WF, RTIu) rats (Scanbur, Sollenruna, Sweden) weighing 250-300 g and 2-3 months of age were used. Heterotopic cardiac allografts were transplanted in abdominal position between fully MHC-mismatched strains. The donor heart was perfused through the inferior vena cava with 1 ml of +4°C 0.9% NaCl with 500 IU heparin. The inferior and superior vena cava, and pulmonary veins were ligated. The ascending aorta and pulmonary artery were excised distally, and the donor heart was removed and^ kept in +4°C PBS. The allograft aorta and pulmonary artery were then anastomozed to the abdominal aorta and vena cava inferior of the recipient. In the acute rejection model, no immunosuppression was used and the syngrafts (DA->DA) and allografts (DA->WF) were harvested at 5 days. In the chronic rejection model, the recipients received cyclosporine A (CsA, Novartis Basel, Switzerland) 2 mg/kg/d for the first week and 1 mg/kg/d thereafter, and the grafts were harvested at 8 weeks. CsA was dissolved in Intralipid (100 mg/ml, Fresenius Kabi, Bad Homburg, Germany) and was administered subcutaneously.

[00389] In the mouse model, specific pathogen-free inbred male BALB/c (B/c, H-2d) and C57BL/6J (B6, H-2b) mice (Harlan) weighing 25-30 g and 2-3 months of age were used. The recipients received FK506 (intramuscular formulation, Astellas Pharma, Tokyo, Japan) subcutaneously 3.0 mg/kg/d for the first week and 1.5 mg/kg/d thereafter as background immunosuppression, and the allografts were harvested at 8 weeks for histological and immunohistochemical analysis. This immunosuppression was chosen after preliminary studies with different FK506 dosing, as the current administration resulted in prolonged allograft survival and development of CAV. [00390] Oπgin of Allograft Lymphatic EC

[00391 ] Transgenic marker gene mice that express LacZ under VEGFR-3 promoter (VEGFR-3/LacZ) were used to investigate the origin of allograft VEGFR-3 lymphatic EC To investigate recipient-derived VEGFR-3 expression in the transplanted heart, Balb/c hearts were transplanted to VEGFR-3/LacZ recipients using the mouse chronic rejection heart transplant model Replacement of allograft lymphatic EC with bone marrow (BM)- deπved cells was investigated using C57 mice that had received a BM transplant from GFP-expressing syngenic mice (GFP-BM) as BaIb cardiac allograft recipients using the mouse chronic rejection heterotopic heart transplant model (n=3) Allografts were harvested at 8 weeks Samples were first incubated in 2% paraformaldehyde for 30 min, then in 20% sucrose overnight, embedded in TissueTek and snap-frozen in liquid nitrogen

[00392] Effect of VEGFR-3 Inhibition on Alloimmune Responses in Rat Cardiac Allografts

[00393] To investigate the role of VEGFR-3 ligand inhibition in rat cardiac allografts, recipients were perfused in the beginning of the operation intraportally with adenoviral vectors (1 x109 pfu in 1 ml) encoding control vector (Ad LacZ or Ad GFP) or soluble VEGFR-3 receptor (Ad VEGFR-3-Ig) The recipients received CsA 1 0 mg/kg/d as background immunosuppression The recipient livers and the transplanted allografts were harvested on day 5 (ad GFP n=7, ad VEGFR-3-Ig n=7) to investigate the efficiency of adenoviral gene transfer, and alloimmune activation in the allograft The effect of intraportal ad VEGFR3-Ig perfusion on cardiac allograft survival (ad LacZ, n=10, ad VEGFR-3-Ig, n=10) was mvestigated by harvesting allografts at 8 weeks or if the graft function deteπorated Hepatocyte GFP expression was detected immunohistochemically

[00394] ELISA

[00395] ELISA (Quantikine-R&D Systems) was used to detect the presence of VEGFR- 3-Ig in rat serum collected at day 5 posttransplantation, confirming the functionality of the adenoviral gene transfer in our system

[00396] Effect of VEGFR-3 Inhibition in Chronically-Rejecting Mouse Cardiac Allografts [00397] To investigate the functional role of VEGFR-3, mouse cardiac allograft recipients were treated u ith 800 μg of rat IgG (n=7, Sigma-Aldπch, St Louise, MO) or rat anti-mouse VEGFR-3 neutralizing antibody (n=8, mF4-31Cl , ImClone, New York, NY) Antibodies were administered intrapentoneally every third day for four w eeks, starting immediatel> after operation

[00398] Histology

[00399] Cardiac transplant arteriosclerosis was determined by two independent observers in blinded manner from paraformaldehyde-fixed paraffin sections stained with hematoxylin-eosin and Resorcin fuchsin for internal elastic lamina using computer-assisted image processing (Axio\ ision 4 4, Carl Zeiss, Oberkochen, Germany) and measuπng the area surrounded by the internal elastic lamina and vessel lumen Arterial occlusion percentage was determined as the ratio of neointimal area and internal elastic lamina area

[00400] Immunohistochemistry

[00401 ] Cryostat sections were stained using peroxidase ABC method (Vectastain Elite ABC Kit, Vector Laboratoπes, Burlingame, Calif ) and the reaction was re\ ealed by 3- amino-9-ethylcarbazole (AEC, Vectastain) Immunofluorescense double stairungs were performed using a sequential approach and Alexa Fluor 488 (green) and Alexa Fluor 568 (red), (Promega, Madison, WI) secondary antibodies Antibodies and dilutions used were CD4 (5 μg/ml, 22021 D), CD8 (5 μg/ml, 22071 D), EDl (5 μg/ml, 22451 D), CDl l β (5 μg/ml, 553308) and IL-2Rα (5 μg/ml, 22090D) from BDPharmingen, San Diego, CA, Ki67 (1 2000, NCL-Ki67p) from Novocastra Laboratoπes Ltd, New Castle, UK, rabbit anti-mouse affinity puπfied LYVE-I (1 1000 with TSA amplification) and Anti-mouse CCL-21/6Ckine Antibody (1 200) from Professor Kan Alitalo, VEGF-C (0 5μg/ml, ab9546) and anti-GFP (1 200, ab 290) from Abeam, Cambπdge, UK, mouse anti-rat OX- 62 (10 μg/ml, MCA 1029G), RECA-I (50 μg/ml, MCA970) and major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II (10 μg/ml, MCA46R) from Serotec, Oxford, UK, VEGFR-3 (200 μg/ml, AF743) from R&D Systems, Minneapolis, MN, PROX-I (0 01 mg/ml, DP 3501P) from Acπs Antibodies, Hiddenhausen, Germany All analyses were performed in a blinded manner by two independent observers

[00402] Analysis of the Immunohistochemical Stainings [00403] Graft-infiltrating inflammatory cells and LYVE- 1 +, VEGFR-3+ or CCL-21 + lymphatic vessels with clear lumen were counted from four random fields from each quadrant of the section's parenchyme with 4Ox magnification and are given as the mean number of positive cells or vessels per mm2. Lymphatic vessels were also counted from the epicardium of the section and the amount of vessels are given as the mean number of positive vessels per mm2.

[00404] RNA Isolation and Reverse Transcription

[00405] Total RNA was extracted using RNeasy Mini Kit (Qiagen, Hilden, Germany) (n=4-6 per group). Reverse transcription of mRNA was carried out from 100 ng total RNA in a final volume of 20 μl, using 200 U M-MLV reverse transcriptase (Sigma-Aldrich), with 20 U recombinant RNasin ribonuclease inhibitor (Promega), 0.5 mM dNTPs (Sigma- Aldrich), and 2.5 μM random nonamers (Sigma-Aldrich). After RT, 40 μl of nuclease-free water was added to each cDNA and 3 μl of each sample was used in each subsequent PCR reaction.

[00406] Real-Time PCR

[00407] External standards were used to generate a standard curve for each gene of interest. The templates of these standards consisted of PCR fragments generated with the same primers as used in real-time PCR. The DNA concentrations were determined by spectrophotometry (Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany), followed by calculation of the PCR fragment concentrations. For each standard curve, 10-fold serial dilutions were made starting from 107 PCR fragments. The number of copies of the gene of interest was calculated from the corresponding standard curve using LightCycler software (Roche, Basel, Switzerland).

[00408] Real-time RT-PCR reactions were carried out in a LightCycler using LightCycler FastStart DNA MasterPLUS SYBR Green I mix (Roche), primer concentrations of 0.4 μM, and a cDNA amount corresponding to 5 ng total RNA in a reaction volume of 10 μl. A typical protocol included a 10-min denaturation step at ÷95 0C followed by 35 cycles with a +95 °C denaturation step for 10 sec, annealing at +59 0C for 10 sec, and extension at +72 °C depending on the length of the product (1 sec for 25 bp). Measurement of the PCR product was performed at the end of each extension period. Amplification specificity was checked using melting curve analysis. Results are given in relation to 18S rRNA molecule numbers.

[00409] The following primers for rat IL-2 (Gene Bank accession no. NM_053836), IL-4 (ace. No. NM_201270), IL-6 (ace. No. NM_012589), IL- 10 (ace. No. NM_012854), TNF- α (ace. No. NM_012675), IFN-γ (ace. No. NM_13888O), CCL-21 (ace. No. NM_01 1 124) and FOXP-3 (ace. No. XM 228771) were used:

[00410] IL-2 fwd 5'- CTGAGAGGGATCGATAATTACAAGA-S" (SEQ ID NO: 129); bwd 5'- ATTGGC ACTC AAATTTGTTTTC AG-3' (SEQ ID NO: 130);

[0041 1 ] IL-4 fwd 5'- ATGTTTGTACCAGACGTCCTTACG-3" (SEQ ID NO: 131 ); bwd 5'- TGCGA AGCACCCTGGAA-3' (SEQ ID NO: 132);

[00412] IL-6 fwd 5'- CCC AACTTCC AATGCTCTCCTAATG-3" (SEQ ID NO: 133); bwd 5'- GCACACTAGGTTTGCCGAGTAGACC-S' (SEQ ID NO: 134);

[00413] IL- 10 fwd 5'- TAAGGGTTACTTGGGTTGCC-S' (SEQ ID NO: 135); bwd 5"- TATCC AGAGGGTCTTCAGC-S' (SEQ ID NO: 136);

[00414] TNF-α fwd 5'- CTGTGCCTCAGCCTCTTCTCATTC^ ' (SEQ ID NO: 137); bwd 5'-TTGGGAACTTCTCCTCCTTGTTGG-S' (SEQ ID NO: 138);

[00415] IFN-γ fwd 5'- GAGGTGAACAACCCACAGA-3' (SEQ ID NO: 139); bwd 5"- TATTGGC ACACTCTCTACCC-3' (SEQ ID NO: 140);

[00416] CCL-21 fwd 5'- CCCTGG ACCC AAGGCAGT-3' (SEQ ID NO: 141 ); bwd 5'- AGGCTTAGAGTGCTTCCGGG-3' (SEQ ID NO: 142); and

[00417] FOXP-3 fwd 5'- GCTTGTTTGCTGTGCGGAGAC-3' (SEQ ID NO: 143); bwd 5'- GTTTCTGAAGTAGGCGAACAT-S' (SEQ ID NO: 144).

[00418] Flow Cytometry

[00419] The cardiac allograft spleens were harvested at 5 days after the transplantation to RPMI- 1640 medium. The tissue was homogenized with a scalpel and 1 x 10 spleen cells were incubated with FITC- or PE-conjugated antibodies for 15 minutes at room temperature. The cells were then washed twice with PBS and analyzed with a FACScan (Becton Dickinson) flow cytometer Antibodies used were CD45-FITC (MCA43FT, Serotec), CD68-RPE (MCA341 PE, Serotec), OX62-RPE (MCA1029PE, Serotec) IgGl - FITC (MCA43FT, Serotec) and IgG-RPE (MCA 1209PE) were used as negative isotype controls

[00420] Statistics

[00421 ] All data are given as mean ± SEM and analyzed by parametπc Student T test, or by log-rank test (graft sumval) using SPSS for Windows version 1 1 5 1 (SPSS inc , Chicago, IL) P<0 05 was regarded as statistically significant

Results [00422] Chroruc Alloimmune Stimulus Induces Myocardial Lymphangiogenesis in Cardiac Allografts

[00423] As lymphatic growth is often seen duπng inflammation, we evaluated whether acute or chronic rejection induces lymphangiogenesis in rat cardiac allografts by using lymphatic endothelium-specific hyaluronan acid receptor- 1 (LYVE- I) hi the acute rejection model, fully MHC-mismatched rat heterotopic cardiac allograft recipients were non-immunosuppressed, and allografts developed an intense acute rejection at 5 days In the chronic rejection model, allograft recipients received suboptimal cyclospoπne A (CsA) immunosuppression, and allografts showed chronic rejection with moderate allograft inflammation, myocardial fibrosis, and arteriosclerosis at 8 weeks We found small and large LYVE-I+ vessel structures in the myocardium of normal non-transplanted and transplanted hearts These vessels opened to larger epicardial collecting LYVE- 1 + lymphatic vessels In normal hearts and syngeneic controls, LYVE-I+ lymphatic vessel density was two times higher in the epicardial area than in the myocardium Chronic rejection doubled the myocardial LYVE-I+ lymphatic vessel density, suggesting active lymphangiogenesis duπng chroruc allograft inflammation. Acute rejection decreased the epicardial lymphatic vessel density, possibly indicating lymphatic vessel destruction duπng intense inflammation

[00424] Immunofluorescence double staimngs of chronically-rejecting cardiac allografts demonstrated the expression of lymphatic endothelial cell transcπption factor Prox-1 in the nucleus of the LYVE-I+ cells, confirming the lymphatic phenotype This was further supported by the observation that LYVE-I and rat vascular endothelial cell antigen -1 (RECA-I ) were not expressed in same \ essels, suggesting that these are markers of lymphatic and vascular EC in the rat, respectn ely The proliferation marker KJ67 was infrequently found in LYVE- I + EC, whereas several Ki67+ LYVE-I allograft-infiltrating mononuclear cells were detected outside LYVE- 1 + lymphatic \ essels CD4+ and CD8+ T lymphocytes \\ ere mainly detected outside the LYVE- 1 + lymphatic \ essels In contrast, EDl+ macrophages and OX-62+ DC were found both outside and inside the LYVE-I + vascular structures, indicating that the lymphatic vessels in cardiac allografts are functional in transferring APC

[00425] Macrophages and CD4+ Lymphocytes are the Major Source of VEGF-C in Chronically-Rejecting Cardiac Allografts

[00426] Our finding that chronic alloimune stimulus induces lymphangiogenesis in cardiac allografts prompted us to in\ estigate the expression of a potent lymphangiogenic cytokine VEGF-C in transplanted hearts VEGF-C was mainly expressed in graft- infiltrating mononuclear cells The density of VEGF-C+ cells was similar in non- transplanted hearts, acutely rejecting cardiac allografts, and syngenic controls, whereas myocardial VEGF-C+ density was two times higher in cardiac allografts undergoing chronic rejection Immunofluorescense double stainings show ed that a subset of ED 1 + macrophages and CD4+ lymphocytes were VEGF-C positive, whereas CD8+ lymphocytes did not show VEGF-C lmmunoreactivity These findings indicate that duπng chronic cardiac allograft rejection, macrophages and CD4+ T lymphocytes are the major source for lymphangiogenic VEGF-C

[00427] VEGFR-3 IS Expressed in Lymphatic Endothelium and A Subset of Dendntic Cells in Cardiac Allografts

[00428] We determined the expression of VEGFR-3 - the receptor for VEGF-C - in transplanted rat hearts VEGFR-3 lmmunoreactivity was detected in lymphatic-like vessels of non-transplanted and transplanted hearts Mononuclear cells were encountered inside the VEGFR-3+ vessels of cardiac allografts Immunohistochemical staining of consecutive sections showed that VEGFR-3 and CCL21 expression was localized in the same lymphatic EC of chronically rejecting allografts The density of VEGFR-3+ vessels was generally lower in the myocardium than in the epicardial area Myocardial VEGFR-3+ vessel density was three times higher in chronicall> -rejecting cardiac allografts than in syngenic controls

[00429] Immunofluorescence double stainings of chronically-rejecting cardiac allografts showed that endothelial VEGFR-3 lmunoreactivity co-localized with LYVE- I expression. although not all LYVE-I + vessels expressed VEGFR-3 In addition to the lymphatic VEGFR-3 expression, we also detected low er VEGFR-3 lmmunoreactivity in occasional allograft-infiltrating mononuclear cells The majoπty of these VEGFR-3+ cells were identified as OX-62+ DC, whereas very few EDl+ macrophages, and no CD4+ or CD8+ cells expressed VEGFR-3 EDl+ macrophages were often encountered inside the VEGFR- 3+ lymphatic vessels Collectively, these findings indicate that VEGFR-3 is expressed in lymphatic vessels and subset of DC in cardiac allografts

[00430] Cardiac allograft VEGFR-3+ lymphatic vessels but not spleen maπginal zone VEGFR-3+ vessels produce CCL21

[00431 ] Distinct molecular properties of lymphatic endothelial cells, such as production of CCL21 chemokine (Knehuber et al , J Exp Med , 194 797-808, 2001 ), are essential in the specialized function of lymphatic vessels in transferring APCs to secondary lymphoid organs This prompted us to investigate whether CCL21 is produced by cardiac allograft lymphatic vessels Immunohistochemical staining of consecutive sections showed that VEGFR-3 and CCL21 were expressed in the same lymphatic vessels of chronical Iy- rejecting allografts In contrast, VEGFR-3 and CCL21 expression did not co-localize in normal spleen or in the spleen of cardiac allograft recipients Results indicated that VEGFR-3 was expressed in the endothelium of vessel-like structures around spleen T cell zones, whereas CCL21 expression localized to white pulp stromal cells and to the central arterioles The finding that allograft VEGFR-3+ lymphatic vessels produce CCL21 suggests that lymphatic endothelial cell-derived chemokine-mediated signals are present at the exit of APCs from cardiac allografts similarly as in corneal allografts (Jin et al , MoI Vis , 13 626-634, 2007) In contrast, the VEGFR-3+ vessels in the spleen (presumably capillaries or venous sinuses of the marginal zone) did not produce CCL21 but may be involved in leukocyte trafficking through non-CCL21 -mediated mechanisms

[00432] The Maiontv of VEGFR-3+ Lymphatic EC in Chronicallv-Reiecting Mouse Cardiac Allografts are Donor-Derived [00433] Recent evidence suggests that BM-deπ\ ed and non-BM-deπ\ ed VEGFR-3+ cells contπbute to lymphangiogenesis (Kerjaschki et al , (2006), "Lymphatic endothelial progenitor cells contπbute to de no\o lymphangiogenesis in human renal transplants," Nat Med 12 230-234, and Maruyama et al , (2005), "Inflammation-induced lymphangiogenesis in the cornea aπses from CDl lb-positive macrophages," J Clin Invest , 1 15 2363-2372) As we found active lymphangiogenesis in chronically-rejecting cardiac allografts, we next used marker gene mice as cardiac allograft recipients to determine the on gin of VEGFR-3+ lymphatic EC First, C57/bl mice that had received BM transplantation from GFP mice (GFP-BM) were used as heart transplant recipients allowing the detection of BM-deπved cells in cardiac allografts The recipients were treated with suboptimal FK506 immunosuppression to prevent severe acute rejection, and the cardiac allografts were harvested eight weeks after the transplantation Immunofluorescence double stainings showed that BM-deπved GFP+ cells localized mainly around VEGFR-3+ lymphatic vessels Less than 4% of the BM-deπved GFP+ cells co-localized with VEGFR-3+ lymphatic EC

[00434] As some of these GFP+ cells may actually be BM-deπved inflammatory cells migrating to the VEGFR-3+ lymphatic vessels, Balb/c hearts were next transplanted to mice that express LacZ under VEGFR-3 promoter (VEGFR-3/LacZ, C57/bl background, n=3), to allow the direct detection of recipient-deπved VEGFR-3+ lymphatic cells in the allografts The x-gal staining revealed epicardial lymphatic endothelial VEGFR-3 expression in the VEGFR-3/LacZ recipient's own heart In contrast, no recipient-deπved VEGFR-3+ lymphatic EC were encountered in the myocardium of wild type cardiac allografts transplanted to VEGFR-3/LacZ recipients These results indicate that the replacement of cardiac allograft VEGFR-3* lymphatic EC with recipient BM-deπved, or non-BM-deπved cells is rare in this chronic rejection heterotopic heart transplantation model

[00435] VEGFR-3 Inhibition Improves Cardiac Allograft Surv iv al

[00436] We next determined the effect of VEGFR-3 inhibition on alloimmune response by injecting suboptimally immunosuppressed rat cardiac allograft recipients intraportally with adenovirus vector encoding the soluble form of VEGFR-3 (Ad VEGFR-3-Ig, VEGF- C/D-trap) Hepatocyte GFP expression was seen in Ad GFP-perfused recipients, but not in Ad VEGFR-3-Ig-perfused recipients See Figures IA and I B Also, the serum levels of VEGFR-3-Ig were elevated in the Ad VEGFR-3-Ig-perfused animals 5 days after transplantation (Figure 1 C), and remained elevated for at least 21 days, confirming the functionality of the adenoviral gene transfer

[00437] Next, we investigated the effect of VEGFR-3 inhibition on the sumval of fully MHC-mismatched rat cardiac allografts In non-immunosuppressed cardiac allograft recipients, intraportal Ad VEGFR-3-Ig-perfusion increased allograft survival from 4 9 to 6 0 days (p<0 05, n=7 per group) Intraportal Ad VEGFR-3-Ig-perfusion in cardiac allograft recipients receiving suboptimal dose of CsA significantly improved allograft survival See Figure I D Our results thus suggest that VEGFR-3 inhibition together with CsA background immunosuppression markedly prolongs long-term allograft survi\ al while it only has a marginal effect as sole treatment in a fully MHC-mismatched model

[00438] VEGFR-3 Inhibition Decreases Cardiac Intragraft CCL21 Production. Alloimmune Activation and Effector Cell Recruitment

[00439] To clarify the underlying mechanisms behind the beneficial effect on allograft survival, we used the same experimental setting (Ad VEGFR-3 perfusion and suboptimal CsA immunosuppression) and harvested the allografts 5 days after transplantation Ad VEGFR-3-Ig-perfusion decreased the density of, graft infiltrating CD8+ T cells, and alloimmune activation in the form of IL-2Rα+ and MHC class II expression In contrast, no changes in graft infiltrating EDl+ macrophages, allograft CD4+ cells or OX-62+ DC s or the density of LYVE- 1 + vessels were observed

[00440] Real time RT-PCR showed that intraportal Ad VEGFR-3-Ig perfusion resulted in a two-fold decrease in allograft CCL21 mRNA expression. No significant changes were observed in IL-6, Foxp3, INF-γ, IL-10, TNF-α, NFicβ, lymphotoxin (LT)-α or LT-β mRNA levels. Together, these findings indicate that VEGFR-3 inhibition decreases alloimmune activation and infiltration of effector cells in cardiac allografts together with a decrease in intragraft CCL21 production

[00441] VEGFR-3 Inhibition Decreases Dendritic Cell Recruitment to Spleen

[00442] We next investigated whether the reduction of alloimmune response with VEGFR-3 inhibition after heart transplantation was associated with impaired APC recruitment to recipient secondary lymphoid organs using FACS analysis from peripheral blood and spleen leukocytes Ad VEGFR-3-Ig perfusion decreased the proportion of OX- 62+ DC, and ED 1 + cells (p=NS) of spleen CD45+ leukocytes The proportion of OX-62+ cells of peπpheral blood leukocytes was 12 7±2 5% in Ad GFP group and 15 7±4 2% in Ad VEGFR-3 group This indicates that the decrease in spleen DC w as due to impaired APC homing to the spleen rather than impaired APC mobilization from the BM Results further indicated that VEGFR-3-Ig increased the proportion of VEGFR-3+ leukocytes in peπpheral blood possibly due to a trapping effect VEGFR-3-Ig did not change the proportion of OX-62+ DC in peπpheral blood but decreased the recruitment of OX-62+ DC to the recipient spleen These results indicate that VEGFR-3 regulates APC traffic to secondary lymphoid organs

[00443] VEGFR-3 inhibition regulates chemokine balance between allograft and secondary lymphoid organs

[00444] RT-PCR analysis of a subpopulation (n=3) revealed that VEGFR-3 inhibition was associated with over two-fold increase in spleen mRNA levels of CCL21 , IL-IO, and Foxp3 Spleen VEGFR-3 lmmunoreactivity was mainly detected in lymphatic-like vessel structures surrounding the T cell zones, whereas CCL21 lmmunoreactivity was mainly detected in the T cell zones and the central arteπoles, and did not co-localize with VEGFR- 3+ vessels In cardiac allografts on the other hand, CCL21 was mainly expressed in VEGFR-3+ lymphatic-like vessels These observations, together with the unexpected CCL21 response after VEGFR-3 inhibition, may indicate that CCL21 is differentially regulated in peπpheral tissues and secondary lymphatic tissue

[00445] We performed real time RT-PCR analysis of the recipient spleen 5 days after heart transplantation to investigate whether VEGFR-3-Ig decreased CCL21 production in the spleen similarly as in the allograft In contrast to the results in the transplanted heart, treatment with VEGFR-3-Ig actually resulted in 1 5 times higher CCL21 mRNA levels in the spleen We also observed that VEGFR-3-Ig markedly increased the ratio of spleen-to- allograft CCL21 mRNA from 9 1 to 23 1 The differential effect of VEGFR-3 inhibition on allograft and spleen CCL21 mRNA production ma\ be explained by the finding that cardiac allograft VEGFR-3+ lymphatic \essels produced CCL21 whereas VEGFR-3 and CCL21 were not produced by the same cells in the spleen Further RT-PCR analysis of the spleen revealed that VEGFR-3 inhibition resulted in a significant increase in Treg transcπption factor Foxp3 This is interesting in the light of recent reports that CCL21 plays a \ ital role in homing, localization and function of Tregs (Schneider et al , J Exp Med , 204 735-745, 2007, Kocks et al , J Exp Med . 204 723-734, 2007) In addition, VEGFR-3 inhibition did not significantly alter spleen mRNA lev els of IL-10 (Hoπ et al , Science, 299 1057- 1061 , 2003), IL-6, IFN-γ, TNF-α, NF-κB, LT-α, and LT-β at 5 days after transplantation These results suggest that VEGFR-3 inhibition regulates chemokine balance between allograft and secondary lymphoid organs in favour of attenuated immune response

[00446] VEGFR-3 Neutralizing Monoclonal Antibody Decreases Inflammation and Inflammation-Dmen Arteriosclerosis in Chronically-Rejecting Mouse Cardiac Allografts

[00447] We wanted to confirm the results of VEGFR-3 inhibition with neutralizing antibodies against VEGFR-3 in another chronic rejection heart transplantation model Mouse cardiac allograft recipients received suboptimal FK506 immunosuppression to prevent intense acute rejection and to allow the development of chronic rejection at 8 weeks In addition, the recipients were treated either with rat IgG or rat anti-mouse neutralizing antibodies (VEGFR-3 mAb, ImClone) against VEGFR-3 for one month At two months, the effect of VEGFR-3 inhibition reduced the density of VEGFR-3+ and CCL- 2I + lymphatic vessels in the allograft In addition, VEGFR-3 inhibition reduced the density of CD4+ lymphocytes, COS+ lymphocytes, and CDl Ib+ myelomonocytic cells Interestingly, treatment with VEGFR-3 mAb significantly decreased the mean arterial occlusion compared to the control group Our results thus show that early treatment with neutralizing VEGFR-3 antibody decreases allograft CCL21 production, inflammation, and arteriosclerosis in chronically-rejecting mouse cardiac allografts

[00448] Finally, because lymphoid neogenesis (i e , organization of chronic inflammatory infiltrates into functional ectopic germinal centers or tertiary lymphoid organs (TLOs)), has been linked with the formation of chronic rejection (Thaunat et al , Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 102 14723-14728. 2005, Baddoura et al , Am J Transplant, 5 510-516, 2005, Nasr et al , Am J Transplant . 7 1071 -1079, 2007), we investigated the presence of TLOs in our chronically-rejecting cardiac allografts Immunohistochemical stauungs revealed a characteristic pattern of peπpheral node adressin-positive high endothelial venules, and discrete B and T cell accumulation only in one allograft in the control group (Fig 10, A-C) This implies that lymphoid neogenesis is not a cπtical phenomenon at least in the two month end-point of our chronic rejection model, and the effect of VEGFR-3 inhibition on TLO formation thus cannot be e\ aluated in this model within this timeframe

Analysis

[00449] The lymphatic network is adapted at both structural and molecular level to transfer leukocytes out of tissues The thin-w ailed lymphatic capillaries provide easy access for interstitial cells and fluid, whereas the smooth muscle coverage and vahes of the collecting lymphatic vessels provide unilateral movement towards secondary lymphoid organs Lymphatic EC ha\ e distinct molecular properties that reflect their function and ha\e been utilized for the detection of lymphatic vessels These cells express podoplanin, hyaluronan receptor LYVE-I , VEGFR-3 and inflammatory cytokine CCL21 that are not found in \ ascular EC The identification of signals that regulate lymphatic growth - most importantly VEGF-C/VEGFR-3 - has greatly improved our knowledge of lymphatic vessels in both physiological and pathological situations

[00450] Effective transfer of APC from transplanted organs to secondary lymphoid organs is cπtical for the pπming of alloreactive T cells and the development of alloimmune responses that may be detπmental for the heart transplant recipient In the current study, we found that chronic cardiac allograft rejection increased myocardial lymphatic vessel density The capillary lymphatics in cardiac allografts opened to epicardial collecting lymphatic vessels, and expressed the lymphatic transcription factor Prox-1, LYVE- I , VEGFR-3, and CCL21 In addition, APC such as macrophages and DC were often encountered inside these vessels, indicating vessel functionality Active lymphangiogenesis is seen in human kidney transplants with nodular inflammatory infiltrates (Kerjaschki et al , (2004), "Lymphatic neoangiogenesis in human kidney transplants is associated with immunologically active lymphocytic infiltrates," J Am Soc Nephrol , 15 603-612) and in other inflammatory conditions As the observed lymphangiogenesis in chronically-rejecting allografts in this study was accompanied with an increase in VEGF-C-producing macrophages and CD4+ lymphocytes, our results suggest interplay of chronic inflammation. VEGF-C/VEGFR-3 signalling, and lymphangiogenesis in cardiac allografts

[00451 ] Lymphatic EC in the transplanted heart may originate from recipient BM cells, from recipient non-BM cells or from donor cells Recently, it was shown that recipient- denved lymphatic endothelial progenitor cells - possibly in the form of macrophages - participate in lymphangiogenesis of human kidney allografts (Kerjaschki et al., (2006), "Lymphatic endothelial progenitor cells contribute to de novo lymphangiogenesis in human renal transplants," Nat. Med. 12: 230-234). Also, macrophages may directly trans- differentiate to lymphatic EC in the inflamed cornea (Maruyama et al., (2005), "Inflammation-induced lymphangiogenesis in the cornea arises from CDl lb-positive macrophages," J. Clin. Invest. 1 15: 2363-2372), and may provide cytokines for the expansion of resident lymphatics (Kerjaschki, D. (2005), "The crucial role of macrophages in lymphangiogenesis," J. Clin. Invest. 1 15: 2316-2319). Here, we used marker gene mice as cardiac allograft recipients and found that recipient-derived cells contribute only minimally to the formation of VEGFR-3+ lymphatic vessels in the heterotopically transplanted hearts. As Kerjascki et al found that about 13% of Prox- 1+ lymphatic vessels in rejected and nephrectomized kidney transplants originated from the recipient, it is possible that the involvement of recipient-derived lymphatic progenitors is dependent on the severity of allograft injury. Paralleling this hypothesis, the degree of allograft injury may determine whether allograft vascular EC originate from the recipient - as in aortic transplantation - or from the donor - as in cardiac allografts (Hillebrands et al., (2001), "Origin of neointimal endothelium and alpha-actin-positive smooth muscle cells in transplant arteriosclerosis, J. Clin. Invest., 107: 141 1-1422). Also, the actual effect of lymphatic endothelium chimerisrn of transplanted organs on alloimmune responses remains unknown.

[00452] Chen et al (2004) have recently reported that VEGFR-3 inhibition impairs DC migration to draining LN and improves the survival of cornea transplants. These effects were possibly mediated through direct inhibition of VEGFR-3+ DC migration independent of lymphangiogenic effects. However, the functional role of VEGFR-3 after solid organ transplantation has been unclear. Here, systemic VEGFR-3 inhibition using adenoviruses encoding soluble VEGFR-3-Ig that traps VEGFR-3 ligands decreased DC migration to spleen, alloimmune activation and improved the long term survival of cardiac allografts. Similarly, treatment with neutralizing VEGFR-3 antibodies decreased allograft inflammation and development of inflammation-driven arteriosclerosis in the chronically rejecting mice cardiac allografts. As we found VEGFR-3+ DC in cardiac allografts, it is possible that VEGFR-3 inhibition had direct effects on DC migration in the current study similar to the findings in the corneal transplantation model (18). [00453] In addition to the direct effects on VEGFR-3+ DC, our results suggest that VEGFR-3 inhibition also had lymphatic EC- and chemokine-mediated effects Specifically, both VEGFR-3 and CCL21 , a chemokine for CCR7+ APC, w ere co- expressed in allograft lymphatic EC, and VEGFR-3 inhibition decreased allograft CCL21 production Our results thus indicate that VEGFR-3 in allograft lymphatic EC may regulate the production of CCL21 , that may in turn facilitate the movement of APC from the allograft to secondary lymphoid tissue and subsequent alloimmune activation Surprisingly, in contrast to the allograft, VEGFR-3 inhibition increased CCL21 production in the spleen VEGFR-3 was mainly expressed around the spleen T cell zones whereas the central arterioles and stromal cells of the T cell zones were the main source of CCL21 in the spleen Therefore, the regulation of CCL21 production may be different in the heart and the spleen due to the differential pattern of VEGFR-3 and CCL21 expression

[00454] In expeπmental studies, the survival of cardiac allografts is modestly increased in CCR7-deficient recipients as well as in CCL21 -deficient recipients (Forster et al , (1999), "CCR7 coordinates the primary immune response by establishing functional microenvironments in secondary lymphoid organs," Cell, 99 23-33, and Colvin et al , (2005), "CXCL9 antagonism further extends prolonged cardiac allograft survival in CCL 19/CCL21 -deficient mice," Am J Transplant ^ 2104-21 13) Collectively, these studies show an important but not cπtical role of CCL21/CCR7-signalling in alloimmune reactions

[00455] In the present study, VEGFR-3 inhibition that resulted in decreased CCL21 production did not completely prevent alloimmune responses in recipients receiving suboptimal dose of CsA Therefore, VEGFR-3 inhibition alone may not completely prevent alloimmune responses in transplant recipients For optimal results VEGFR-3 inhibition can be used as induction or adjuvant therapy in the prevention and treatment of acute rejection, in addition to (in combination with) conventional T-cell-targeted immunosuppression Combination therapy targeting other VEGFR's or PDGFR's or their cognate growth factors also is contemplated Interestingly, VEGFR-3 inhibition resulted in over two-fold increase in spleen Fo\p3 and IL-10 mRNA production Therefore, VEGFR- 3 inhibition may also ha\ e beneficial effects on Treg, but further studies are needed to clarify the effect of VEGFR-3 signalling on Tregs [00456] In conclusion, these results indicate that VEGF-C/VEGFR-3 signalling has important effects on proximal events in cardiac allograft alloimmunity and inflammation- driven arteriosclerosis, possibly through regulating lymphatic endothelial cell CCL21 production and leukocyte trafficking and through direct effects on VEGFR-3+ DC. As an important safety aspect, adult lymphatic vessels are fairly resistant to VEGFR-3 inhibition, suggesting that this treatment in transplant recipients would also primarily inhibit lymphangiogenesis and the functionality of lymphatic vessels in contrast to regression of the existing lymphatic network. Therefore, VEGFR-3 inhibition could be used as a non-T cell-targeted induction therapy to regulate alloimmune activation after solid organ transplantation.

[00457]

Example 8

VEGFR-I and -2 Regulate Inflammation, Myocardial Angiogenesis and Arteriosclerosis in Chronically Rejecting Cardiac Allografts / Rl [00458] We investigated how the two vascular endothelial growth factor receptors

VEGFR- I and VEGFR-2 regulate inflammation and angiogenesis in chronically rejecting cardiac allografts. As described below in detail, chronic rejection in mouse cardiac allografts induced primitive myocardial, adventitial, and intimal angiogenesis with endothelial expression of CD31 , stem cell marker c-kit, and VEGFR-2. Experiments using marker gene mice or rats as cardiac allograft recipients revealed that replacement of cardiac allograft endothelial cells with recipient bone-marrow- or non-bone-marrow-derived cells was rare and restricted only to sites with severe injury. Targeting VEGFR-I with neutralizing antibodies in mice reduced allograft CDl lb+ myelomonocyte infiltration and allograft arteriosclerosis. VEGFR-2 inhibition prevented myocardial c-kit+ and CD31 + angiogenesis in the allograft, and decreased allograft inflammation and arteriosclerosis. These results indicate an interplay of inflammation, primitive donor-derived myocardial angiogenesis, and arteriosclerosis in transplanted hearts, and further indicate that targeting VEGFR-I and -2 with inhibitors differentially regulate these pathological reparative processes.

Materials and Methods

[00459] Experimental design [00460] Mouse chronic rejection hearMransplantation model and iinmunohistochemical stainings were used to identify angiogenesis and progenitor cells in allografts Marker gene mice and rats, and strain-specific major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I antibodies, were used to determine whether allograft EC oπginate from the donor, or from the recipient Neutralizing antibodies were used to investigate the functional role of VEGFR-I and VEGFR-2 on mouse cardiac allograft angiogenesis. inflammation, and arteriosclerosis

[00461 ] Mouse Chronic Rejection Heterotopic Heart Transplantation Model

[00462] Heterotopic cardiac allografts were transplanted in abdominal position from BaIb (B/c, H-2d) to C57 (B6, H-2b) mice (Harlan, Horst, The Netherlands) The recipients received sub-optimal FK506 immunosuppression (i m formulation, Astellas Pharma, Tokyo, Japan) and the allografts were harvested at 8 weeks

[00463] Origin of Allograft Endothelial Cells

[00464] Tiel/LacZ rats32 were used as allograft recipients (n=4) or donors (n=14, with or without immunosuppression) to investigate Tiel expression, and the origin of Tie 1- positive EC in transplanted hearts Contπbution of BM-deπved cells in allograft angiogenesis was investigated using recipient mice with green fluorescent protein- expressing BM cells (GFP-BM, n=3) See Rajantie et al., "Adult bone marrow-derived cells recruited duπng angiogenesis compπse precursors for peπendothehal vascular mural cells," Blood, (2004), 104: 2084-2086.

[00465] VEGFR-I and VEGFR-2 Inhibition

[00466] Cardiac allograft recipients were treated with 800 μg of rat IgG (n=8, Sigma- Aldnch, St Louis, MO), anti- VEGFR-I antibody (n=9, MFl , ImClone, New York, NY), anti-VEGFR-2 antibody (n=9, DClOl , ImClone) or their combination (n=10) every third day for 10 doses, starting immediately after the transplantation

[00467] Histology and Immunohistochemistry

[00468] Arterial occlusion percentage was determined using morphometry. Immunohistochemical stainings were performed using peroxidase ABC method or Alexa Fluor 488 (green) and 568 (red, Promega, Madison, WI) secondary antibodies. [00469] Analysis of Immunohistochemical Stainings

[00470] Allograft parenchymal inflammatory cells and c-kit+ capillaries were counted from 16 random sections, and are summarized as the mean density of positive cells or vessels. CD31 and α-SMA immunofluorescense stainings were analyzed with Axioplan 2 microscope and Axiovision 4.2 analysis software (Carl Zeiss, Oberkochen, Germany) using a semiautomated script.

[00471 ] Real Time RT-PCR

[00472] Total RNA was extracted using RNeasy Mini Kit (Qiagen, Hilden, Germany) (n=4-6 per group). RT-PCR reactions were carried out using LightCycler (Roche, Basel, Switzerland) and the results are given in relation to 18S rRNA molecule numbers.

[00473] Statistical Analysis

[00474] Data are mean ± SEM and analyzed by parametric ANOVA with Dunnett's correction to compare the treatment groups to the control group. Linear regression analysis was applied to evaluate relation of c-kit+ cells to CDl lb+ cells and to cardiac allograft vasculopathy (CAV). P<0.05 was regarded as statistically significant.

Results

[00475] Chronic Rejection Induces Primitive Myocardial Angiogenesis in Cardiac Allografts

[00476] We detected only occasional stem cell marker c-kit immunoreactive cells in cross-sections of non-transplanted mouse hearts. In contrast, numerous myocardial capillary- like c-kit+ cells and c-kit+ vein EC were observed in chronically-rejecting cardiac allografts harvested 2 months after the transplant operation. In allografts with severe arteriosclerotic changes, c-kit+ cells were also found in the adventitia and intima of coronary arteries.

[00477] Allograft myocardial c-kit+ cells were nearly all positive for endothelial marker CD31 , and co-expressed VEGFR-2. The majority of c-kit+ capillaries did not express proliferation marker Ki67, but some c-kit+ cells with nuclear Ki67 immunoreactivity were also detected. [00478] In contrast to the preferential expression of VEGFR-2 in the endothelium, VEGFR-I was mainly expressed in allograft α-SMA+ SMC In peripheral blood, o\er 50% of VEGFR- 1 + cells coexpressed the myelomonocyte marker CDl Ib

[00479] No specific lmmunoreactivity with IgG control was observed

[00480] A positive correlation was verified between the density of c-kit+ capillaries in the myocardium and the number of allograft-infiltrating CDl lb+ myelomonocytic inflammatory cells, as well as with the incidence of arteriosclerotic changes and the mean occlusion of allograft arteries These results indicate that chronic rejection in transplanted hearts induces myocardial, adventitial and intimal angiogenesis with endothelial expression of primitive markers c-kit and VEGFR-2

[00481 ] Endothelial Replacement with Recipient-denved Cells is Rare in Cardiac Allografts

[00482] Because recipient-derived circulating EPC could differentiate to EC in the transplanted heart, we determined the origin of cardiac allograft EC by using marker gene rats (Tiel/LacZ) or mice (GFP-BM) as allograft recipients

[00483] When Tiel/LacZ allografts were transplanted to wild type (WT) recipients, areas with abundant X-gal reactivity in venous and arterial allograft endothelium was detected, indicating Tiel expression in the donor EC

[00484] Next, WT cardiac allografts were transplanted to Tiel/LacZ recipients to detect recipient-derived EC in the transplanted hearts. Only few donor-derived X-gal+ EC, localizing to severely fibrotic areas, were seen in cross-sections in a total of 14 WT cardiac allografts

[00485] Additionally, GFP-BM mice were used as cardiac allograft recipients, allowing the detection of BM-deπved cells in the allografts The majoπty of allograft-infiltrating CD 1 1 b+ myelomonocytic cells expressed GFP Although GFP+ cells often surrounded allograft blood \ essels, no co-localization with allograft CD31 + or c-kit+ capillaries was detected

[00486] Donor- and recipient-specific MHC class I antibodies were used to identify the source of EC in allograft arteriosclerotic arteries Numerous recipient MHC class 1+ cells were found around occluded arteries, whereas only few positix e cells were detected in the intima In contrast, abundant donor MHC Class I lmmunoreactiwty was found in the neointima The contπbution of recipient-derived SMC to neointimal formation was not assessed, as MHC Class I expression was low in SMC34

[00487] VEGFR-2 Inhibition Normalizes C-kit+ and CD31 + Capillary Density in Chronically Rejecting Cardiac Allografts

[00488] To investigate the functional role of VEGFR-I and -2, chronically rejecting mouse cardiac allograft recipients with suboptimal FK506 immunosuppression were treated with rat IgG (n=8), or with antibodies against VEGFR-I (MFl , n=9), antibodies against VEGFR-2 (DC 101 , n=9), or both antibodies against VEGFR- 1 and R-2 (n= 10) for thirty days Two months after heart transplantation, the antibodies targeting VEGFR-2 reduced the density of myocardial c-kit+ capillaries and CD31 + capillaries in the allograft to the level found in non-transplanted mouse hearts VEGFR-I inhibition also resulted in a smaller decrease in c-kit+ capillary density (p=NS with Dunned s correction, p<0 05 with LSD correction) VEGFR- 1 or -2 inhibition did not change the density of SMC coated vessels (α-SMA+), indicating that VEGFR-2 inhibition specifically regulated angiogenesis at microvascular level

[00489] VEGFR-I and -2 Inhibition Reduces Inflammation in Chronically Rejecting Cardiac Allografts

[00490] Immunohistochemical analysis showed that targeting VEGFR-I , VEGFR-2, or both profoundly reduced the density of allograft-infiltrating CDl lb+ myelomonocytic cells VEGFR-2 inhibition also resulted in a similar reduction in CD8+ and CD4+ lymphocyte density in the allograft (for the combination group p=NS with Dunnett's correction and p<0 05 with LSD correction)

[00491 ] VEGFR-I and -2 Inhibition Reduces Arteriosclerosis in Chronically Rejecting Cardiac Allografts

[00492] Moφhometπcal analysis of allograft arteries revealed that targeting VEGFR- 1 , VEGFR-2, or both decreased the incidence of allograft arteries with intimal changes from about 55% in the IgG control mice to under 40% in the mice receiving anti-VEGFR- 1 (p<0 05), anti-VEGFR-2 (p<0 05), or both (p<0.01 ). A similar result was also obtained on the mean occlusion of allograft arteries (about 18% arterial occlusion in the IgG controls, compared to about 7% in the anti- VEGFR- I mice (p<0 01 ), about 1 1 % in the anti-VEGFR- 2 mice (p < 0 05), and about 10% in the mice receiv ing both antibodies (p<0 05) These results indicate that both VEGFR- I and -2 are invoh ed in events leading to CAV

[00493] Effect of VEGFR-I and -2 Inhibition on Allograft Cytokine mRNA Levels

[00494] Finally, we used real time RT-PCR to determine the mRNA le\ els of inflammatory cytokines IFN-inducible protein- 10 (IP-IO) and monocyte chemotactic protein- 1 (MCP-I ) that are potentially regulated by VEGF in cardiac allografts, and the mRNA levels of stem cell factor (SCF) that is the ligand for c-kit The analysis rev ealed that VEGFR-2 inhibition decreased allograft IP-10 mRNA by approximately 50% alone, and by 75% in combination with VEGFR-I inhibition, and MCP-I mRNA by 50% In contrast, allograft TNF-α and SCF mRNA levels were similar in the control and treatment groups These results indicate that the VEGFR-2 inhibition regulated at least in part the T cell and monocyte recruitment by decreasing IP-10 and MCP-I production, respectively Also, the effect of VEGFR-2-inhibition on c-kit+ capillaries was not associated with changes in SCF production

Analysis

[00495] Angiogenesis is a prominent feature in the intima and adventitia of cardiac allograft coronary arteries and it may be a dπving force for the development of CAV The results of these expeπments demonstrate that, in addition to intimal and adventitial angiogenesis, chronic rejection induces the expression of primitive markers c-kit and VEGFR-2 in allograft myocardial capillaries As the density of myocardial c-kit+ capillaπes correlated with the seventy of cardiac allograft inflammation and arteriosclerosis, alloimmune and ischemic stimuli may be important regulators of the myocardial angiogenesis we observed This primitive ckit+ angiogenic response probably represents a repair process that, interestingly, in light of the present VEGF intervention results, may in fact aggravate inflammation and arteriosclerosis in transplanted hearts Importantly, there may be a balance between early capillary formation and later destruction of allograft capillaries as seen in skin transplants (See Moulton et al , "Angiogenesis in the huPBL-SCID model of human transplant rejection," Transplantation, (1999), 67 1626- 1631 ) [00496] In experiments using marker gene animals and donor- or recipient-specific antibodies, we found only few recipient-derived EC in the transplanted hearts and they were restπcted to se\ erely fibrotic areas These observations suggest that recipient-derived circulating cells do not differentiate into allograft EC unless the injury to the allograft extensive Although this notion argues against direct involvement of recipient-derived EPC in allograft angiogenesis, these circulating cells may have important paracπne effects Our results on the oπgin and c-kit+ phenotype of allograft EC further indicates that donor- derned progenitor cells - such as resident cardiac stem cells or adventitial stem cells— directly participate in allograft angiogenesis Alternatively, the hypoxic and inflammatory signals related to the transplantation may have induced dedifferentiation of allograft EC to a more primitive phenotype Interestingly, EPC-deπved soluble factors such as VEGF, VEGF-B, stromal cell derived factor- 1 , and insulin-like growth factor- 1 , and also hepatocyte grow th factor may regulate the functions of c-kit+ cardiac progenitor cells, and the present results suggest important role for VEGFR-2

[00497] VEGF is perhaps the most important angiogenic cytokine and it also has many proinflammatory properties The present findings support the theory of regulatory role of VEGF in the pathogenesis of alloimmune responses and CAV in transplanted hearts, and shed light to the mechanisms, and the two VEGFR involved In transplanted hearts VEGFR-2 inhibition reduced myocardial angiogenesis to the level seen in normal hearts, consistent with the important angiogenic role for VEGFR-2 In addition, targeting

VEGFR-2 decreased inflammatory cell infiltration, and production of IP-10 and MCP-I in the allograft, similarly to previous reports with anti-VEGF therapies (See, e g., Reinders et al , "Proinflammatory functions of vascular endothelial growth factor in alloimmuruty," J. Clin Invest , (2003), 1 12 1655-1665.) Our results thus suggest that VEGFR-2 in cardiac allografts functions mainly at the endothelial level and regulates both pathological capillary angiogenesis and inflammation Involvement of VEGFR-2 in cardiac inflammation may be a more general phenomenon, as the receptor participates in cardiac dysfunction dunng sepsis, and also in vascular permeability following myocardial infarction

[00498] In contrast to VEGFR-2, VEGFR-I was pπmaπly found in allograft SMC and in peripheral blood myelomonocytic cells As VEGFR-I directly regulates SMC dunng arterial injury, VEGFR-I inhibition in the current study may have directly decreased SMC recruitment to the intima VEGFR-I inhibition also profoundly reduced myelomonocyte recruitment to the allograft, consistent with its role in monocytes and inflammatory diseases. Although VEGFR-2 inhibition prominently decreased the density of myocardial c-kit+ cells, VEGFR- I inhibition had a similar but more subtle effect. This indicates that also VEGFR- I may in part regulate the capillary angiogenesis, and possibly involves cross-talk with VEGFR-2, or in-direct inflammation-mediated effects. The reason why combined VEGFR-I and -2 inhibition did not have a beneficial additive effect may be explained by the moderate injury in the current expeπmental setting. Supporting this, our unpublished trachea transplantation findings show additive beneficial effect after severe but not after moderate tracheal injury. (See also Sho et al., "Function of the Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Receptors FIt-I and FIk-I /KDR in the Alloimmune Response In Vivo," Transplantation, (2005); 80: 717-722.)

[00499] In summary, these experiments demonstrated that chronic rejection in cardiac allografts induced donor-derived capillary angiogenesis. Also, selective VEGFR-inhibition prevented allograft angiogenesis and had beneficial effects on inflammation and arteriosclerosis. These results indicate therapeutic applications for anti-VEGF strategies duπng pathological angiogenesis and inflammation in transplanted hearts.

[00500]

Example 9 Combination Therapy Targeting Receptors of Multiple Growth Factors

[00501 ] The data in Examples 7 and 8 implicate VEGFR- 1 , VEGFR-2, and VEGFR-3 (and the growth factor ligands of these receptors) in chronic allograft rejection, particularly with reference to the model system used: cardiac transplants.

[00502] The experiments of Examples 7 and 8 are modified in that new combinations of inhibitors of growth factors and/or growth factor receptors are employed, and the protective effects of the combinations are evaluated. Evidence exists that the PDGF receptors and PDGF ligands may have a role in allograft disease. See, e.g., Nykanen et al., "Angiogenic Growth Factors in Cardiac Allograft Rejection," Transplantation, (2006); 82: S22-S24, incoφorated herein by reference. It is expected that combinations of inhibitors that are directed to receptors of distinct growth factor ligands (and/or directed to distinct growth factors themselves) will have additive or synergistic effects. All combinations described herein are specifically contemplated, including but not limited to the following: [00503] (a) inhibitor of VEGFR-3 interaction with its ligands (VEGF-C or D), in combination with one or more inhibitors of VEGFR-I and its ligands, or inhibitors of VEGFR-2 and its ligands, or both,

[00504] (b) inhibitor of VEGFR-3 interaction with its ligands, in combination with one or more inhibitors of PDGFR-alpha and its ligands, or PDGFR-beta and its ligands, or both,

[00505] (c) inhibitor of VEGFR-3 interaction with its ligands in combination with both (i) inhibitor of VEGFR-I and its ligands, or inhibitor of VEGFR-2 and its ligands, and (ii) inhibitor of PDGFR-alpha and its ligands, or PDGFR-beta and its ligands,

[00506] (d) inhibitors of VEGFR-3, VEGFR-2, VEGFR-I , PDGFR-alpha, and PDGFR- beta with their respectiv e ligands,

[00507] (e) inhibitors of VEGFR- 1 or VEGFR-2 in combination with inhibitors of PDGFR-alpha or PDGFR-beta, and their respective ligands

[00508] The inhibition of multiple receptors or ligands can be achieved with multivalent inhibitor substances descπbed herein, small molecule non-specific inhibitors (e g , tyrosine kinase inhibitors), or with co-administration of multiple, selective inhibitors, such as those descπbed herein The inhibition can be directed to inhibit hgand/receptor interaction, or to inhibit expression of the ligands or receptors, or to inhibit downstream signaling, for example A composition compπsing an inhibitor can be administered, or a composition compπsing a pro-drug that is metabolized into an inhibitor can be administered, or a polynucleotide that encodes an inhibitor can be administed in a manner that achieves expression of the encoded inhibitor in the recipient organism

Example 10 Inhibition of rejection of other organ grafts and in other species [00509] The expeπments descπbed in Examples 7-9 are repeated in rodent models for all other organ transplants, including kidney, liver, lung, pancreas, intestine, and esophagus, to demonstrate that therapy directed to these molecular targest for intervention is effective with respect to recipients of other organ transplants [00510] The expeπments descπbed in Examples 7-9, or in the preceding paragraph, are repeated in larger mammals (e g , felines, canines, porcines, equines, bovines, pπmates) to demonstrate efficacy in other species that may be considered more representati\e of humans, as a prerequisite to proving efficacy in human clinical tπals

[0051 1 ] The foregoing descπption and examples have been set forth merely to illustrate the invention and are not intended to be limiting Because modifications of the disclosed embodiments incorporating the spirit and substance of the invention may occur to persons skilled in the art, the inv ention should be construed to include everything within the scope of the appended claims and equivalents thereof The patents, patent application publications and other publications (e g , Journal articles, and web/Internet materials) referenced herein are incorporated in their entirety

[00512] Although the applicant(s) invented the full scope of the claims appended hereto, the claims are not intended to encompass within their scope the pπor art work of others Therefore, in the event that statutory pπor art within the scope of a claim is brought to the attention of the applicants by a Patent Office or other entity or individual, the apphcant(s) reserve the right to exercise amendment rights under applicable patent laws to redefine the subject matter of such a claim to specifically exclude such statutory pπor art or obvious vaπations of statutory pπor art from the scope of such a claim Vaπations of the invention defined by such amended claims also are intended as aspects of the invention

[00513] The patents, patent application publications and other publications (e g , Journal articles) referenced herein are incorporated in their entirety

CLAIMS

1. A method for inducing tolerance or inhibiting rejection of a cell, tissue, or organ transplant, or for inhibiting arteriosclerosis in a transplant recipient, comprising: administering to a mammalian transplant recipient a composition that comprises an endothelial growth factor inhibitor, in an amount effective to induce tolerance for the transplant by the recipient, or inhibit rejection, or inhibit arteriosclerosis.

2. A method for inducing tolerance or inhibiting rejection of a cell, tissue, or organ transplant, or for inhibiting arteriosclerosis in a transplant recipient, comprising: administering to a mammalian transplant recipient a composition that comprises an nucleic acid that comprises a nucleotide sequence that encodes an endothelial growth factor inhibitor, wherein the nucleic acid is expressible in cells of the recipient or expressible in the transplanted cell, tissue, or organ to produce an amount of the endothelial growth factor inhibitor effective to induce tolerance for the transplant by the recipient, or inhibit rejection, or inhibit arteriosclerosis.

3. Use of a composition comprising an endothelial growth factor in the manufacture of a medicament for inducing tolerance or inhibiting rejection of a cell, tissue or organ transplant or for inhibiting arteriosclerosis in a transplant recipient.

4. Use of a composition comprising a nucleic acid that encodes an endothelial growth factor in the manufacture of a medicament for inducing tolerance or inhibiting rejection of a cell, tissue or organ transplant or for inhibiting arteriosclerosis in a transplant recipient.

5. The method or use of claim 2 or 4, wherein the nucleic acid further comprises at least one expression control sequence operatively connected to the sequence that encodes the endothelial growth factor inhibitor.

6. The method or use of claim 2, 4 or 5, comprising administering an expression vector that comprises the nucleic acid.

7. The method or use of claim 6, wherein the vector comprises a replication deficient viral vector. 8. The method or use of claim 7, wherein the vector comprises at least one member selected from the group consisting of a retrovirus, an adenovirus, an adeno- associated virus, a vaccinia virus and a herpesvirus.

9. The method or use of any one of claims 5-8, wherein expression of the vector is inducible by administration of an exogenous pharmaceutical agent.

10. The method or use of any one of claims 5-8, wherein expression of the vector is induced by an endogenous stress in the organ transplant recipient. 1 1. The method or use of claim 10, wherein the stress comprises an elevation of a biological marker correlated with rejection.

12. The method of any one of claims 1 , 2 and 5-1 1 , wherein the recipient is human.

13. The method or use of any one of claims 1 -12, wherein the transplant is a xenograft, and the method induces tolerance for the xenograft or inhibits xenograft rejection.

14. The method of any one of claims 1 ,2 and 5-1 1 , wherein the transplant is an allograft transplant, and the composition is administered in an amount effective to induce tolerance for the allograft or inhibit alloimmunity. 15. The method or use of any one of claims 1-14, wherein the composition further comprises a pharmaceutically acceptable carrier.

16. The method or use of any one of claims 1-15, where the transplant is a cell or tissue transplant.

17. The method or use of claim 16, wherein the cell or tissue comprises a member selected from the group consisting of embryonic stem cells, pluripotent stem cells, hematopoietic precursor cells, neuronal precursor cells, and endothelial precursor cells.

18. The method or use of claim 16, wherein the cell or tissue comprises a member selected from the group consisting of pancreatic islet cells, cardiac myocytes, bone marrow cells, endothelial cells, and skin cells.

19. The method or use of any one of claims 1-15, wherein the transplant is an organ or organ fragment capable of performing functions of the organ or capable of regenerating into the organ.

20. The method of any one of claims 1 , 2 and 5-15, wherein the recipient received at least one transplanted organ, or fragment thereof, selected from the group consisting of a heart, a kidney, a lung, a liver, an intestine, a pancreas, skin, and bone.

21. The method of any one of claims 1 , 2 and 5-15, wherein the recipient received at least one transplanted organ selected from the group consisting of heart, lung, liver, and kidney.

22. The method of any one of claims 1 , 2 and 5-15, wherein the recipient received a heart transplant.

23. The method or use of any one of claims 1 -22, wherein the composition is administered locally to the transplanted cell, tissue, or organ in the recipient.

24. The method of any one of claims 1 -23, wherein the composition is administered systemically to the recipients

25. The method of any one of claims 1 -24, wherein the composition is administered intravenously, intramuscularly, or intraperitoneally. 26. The method of any one of claims 1 -25, wherein the composition is administered perorally.

27. The method of any one of claims 1 -26, further comprising administering the composition to the organ or the organ donor before the transplant.

28. The method of any one of claims 1-27, further comprising repeated administration of the composition to the recipient.

29. The method of any one of claims 1-28, wherein the composition is administered to the recipient perioperatively, relative to the transplant operation.

30. The method of any one of claims 1-29, wherein the composition is administered to the recipient for 1-90 days post-operatively, relative to the transplant operation.

31. The method of any one of claims 1 -29, wherein the composition is administered to the recipient for 1-60 days post-operatively, relative to the transplant operation.

32. The method of any one of claims 1-29, wherein the composition is administered to the recipient for 1 -30 days post-operatively, relative to the transplant operation.

33. The method of any one of claims 1 -29, wherein the composition is administered to the recipient for 1 -15 days post-operatively, relative to the transplant operation.

34. The method of any one of claims 1 -33, comprising: screening the organ transplant recipient for symptoms of an acute rejection reaction; and administering the composition to the recipient upon detection of symptoms of acute rejection, in an amount effective to inhibit the rejection.

35. The method or use of any one of claims 1 -34, wherein the endothelial growth factor inhibitor comprises a compound that inhibits stimulation of at least one receptor selected from the group consisting of VEGFR-I, VEGFR-2, and VEGFR-3, by a growth factor ligand of said at least one receptor.

36. The method or use of any one of claims 1-34, wherein the endothelial growth factor inhibitor comprises a compound that inhibits stimulation of VEGFR-3 by VEGF-C or inhibits stimulation of VEGFR-3 by VEGF-D.

37. The method or use of claim 36, wherein the compound comprises an antibody substance selected from the group consisting of antibody substances that immunoreact with VEGFR-3, antibody substances that immunoreact with VEGF-C, and antibody substances that immunoreact with VEGF-D.

38. The method or use of claim 37, wherein the antibody substance is selected from the group consisting of a humanized antibody, a human antibody, a monoclonal antibody, a fragment of an antibody, and a polypeptide that comprises an antigen binding fragment of an antibody.

39. The method or use of claim 37, wherein the antibody substance is a monoclonal antibody that binds VEGFR-3 or VEGF-C or VEGF-D and inhibits binding between VEGFR-3 and VEGF-C or -D.

40. The method or use of any one of claims 1 -36, wherein the endothelial growth factor inhibitor comprises a soluble receptor that binds to at least one endothelial cell growth factor.

41. The method or use of claim 40, wherein the endothelial growth factor inhibitor comprises a soluble VEGFR-3 polypeptide that binds to VEGF-C or

VEGF-D.

42. The method or use of claim 41 , wherein the soluble VEGFR-3 polypeptide comprises the VEGFR-3 extracellular domain, or a fragment thereof sufficient to bind VEGF-C or VEGF-D. 43. The method or use of claim 42, wherein the soluble VEGFR-3 polypeptide comprises the first and second immunoglobulin-like domains of the VEGFR-3.

44. The method or use of claim 42, wherein the soluble VEGFR-3 polypeptide comprises the first, second, and third immunoglobulin-like domains of the VEGFR-3. 45. The method or use of any one of claims 40-44, wherein the soluble receptor is fused to an immunoglobulin constant domain.

46. The method or use of any one of claims 1 -36, wherein the inhibitor comprises a polypeptide that comprises an amino acid sequence at least 95% identical to amino acids 138-226 of SEQ ID NO: 6. 47. The method or use of any one of claims 1 -36, wherein the inhibitor comprises a polypeptide that comprises an amino acid sequence at least 95% identical to amino acids 47-224 of SEQ ID NO: 6.

48. The method or use of any one of claims 1-36, wherein the inhibitor comprises a polypeptide that comprises an amino acid sequence at least 95% identical to amino acids 47-314 of SEQ ID NO: 6.

49. The method or use of any one of claims 1 -36, wherein the inhibitor comprises a polypeptide that comprises an amino acid sequence at least 95% identical to amino acids 24-775 of SEQ ID NO: 6 or fragments thereof that bind VEGF-C.

50. The method or use of any one of claims 1-34, wherein the inhibitor comprises an antisense nucleic acid or an interfering RNA nucleic acid that inhibits expression of an endothelial cell growth factor or endothelial cell growth factor receptor.

51. The method or use of claim 50, wherein the inhibitor is a short interfering RNA that inhibits expression of a protein selected from the group consisting of VEGFR-3. VEGF-C, and VEGF-D.

52. The method or use of claim 51, wherein the inhibitor is an antisense nucleic acid that inhibits expression of a protein selected from the group consisting of

VEGFR-3, VEGF-C, and VEGF-D.

53. The method of any one of claims 43-52, further comprising administering to the recipient a composition that comprises at least one growth factor inhibitor selected from the group consisting of: inhibitors of VEGFR-I with one or more of its ligands; inhibitors of VEGFR-2 with one or more of its ligands; inhibitors of PDFFR-alpha with one or more of its ligands; inhibitors of PDGFR-beta with one or more of its ligands; wherein the combination of inhibitors are administered in amounts effective to induce tolerance for the transplant by the recipient, or inhibit rejection, or inhibit arteriosclerosis.

54. The method of any one of claims 1 -34, wherein the compound comprises bevacizumab (Avastin®) or Ranibizumab (Lucentis®).

55. The method or use of any one of claims 1 -34, wherein the compound is a multivalent inhibitor of two or more receptors selected from the group consisting of

VEGFR-I , VEGFR-2, and VEGFR-3.

56. The method or use of claim 55, wherein the multivalent compound inhibits VEGFR-3 and at least one receptor selected from VEGFR-I and VEGFR-2.

57. The method of any one of claims 1-34, comprising administering to the recipient a composition that inhibits ligand binding to VEGFR-2 and inhibits ligand binding to VEGFR-3.

58. The method of any one of claims 1-57, further comprising administering an immunosuppressive agent to the organ transplant recipient.

59. The method of claim 58, wherein the immunosuppressive agent comprises at least one agent selected from the group consisting of corticosteriods, calcineurine inhibitors, antiproliferative agents, monoclonal antilymphocyte antibodies, and polyclonal antilymphocyte antibodies.

60. The method of claim 58, wherein the immunosuppressive agent comprises at least one compound selected from the group consisting of: Tacrolimus, Mycophenolic acid, Prednisone, Ciclosporin, Azathioprine, Basiliximab, Cyclosporine, Daclizumab, Muromonab-CD3, Mycophenolate Mofetil, Sirolimus, Methylprednisolone, Atgam, Thymoglobulin, OKT3,. Rapamycin, Azathioprine, Cyclosporine, and Interleukin- 2 Receptor Antagonist.

61. The method of any one of claims 1 -60, further comprising administering an antibiotic or antifungal agent to the recipient.

62. The method of any one of claims 1 -61 , further comprising administering to a donor organism a composition that comprises an endothelial growth factor inhibitor, prior to harvesting a cell, tissue, or organ for transplantation into the recipient. 63. The method of any one of claims 1-61 , further comprising contacting a cell, tissue, or organ with a composition that comprises an endothelial growth factor inhibitor, prior to transplanting the cell, tissue, or organ into the mammalian organ transplant recipient.

64. The method of any one of claims 1-61 , further comprising administering to a donor organism, prior to harvesting cells, tissue, or an organ for transplantation, a composition that comprises an nucleic acid that comprises a nucleotide sequence that encodes an endothelial growth factor inhibitor, wherein the nucleic acid is expressible in cells of the tissue or organ to be transplanted.

65. The method of any one of claims 1 -61 , further comprising contacting a cell, tissue, or organ with a composition that comprises an nucleic acid that comprises a nucleotide sequence that encodes an endothelial growth factor inhibitor, prior to transplanting the cell, tissue, or organ into the recipient.

66. A method of preparing a donor cell, tissue, or organ for allograft or xenograft transplantation comprising contacting the cell, tissue, or organ with a composition that comprises an endothelial growth factor inhibitor, prior to transplanting the cell, tissue, or organ into a mammalian organ transplant recipient.

67. Use of a composition comprising an endothelial growth factor inhibitor in the manufacture of a medicament for preparing a donor cell, tissue or organ for allograft or xenograft transplantatation.

68. A method of preparing a donor cell, tissue, or organ for allograft or xenograft transplantation comprising contacting the cell, tissue, or organ with a composition that comprises an nucleic acid that comprises a nucleotide sequence that encodes an endothelial growth factor inhibitor, prior to transplanting the cell, tissue, or organ into a mammalian organ transplant recipient.

69. Use of a composition comprising a nucleic acid that encodes an endothelial growth factor inhibitor in the manufacture of a medicament for preparing a donor cell, tissue or organ for allograft or xenograft transplantatation.

70. A composition that comprises an endothelial growth factor inhibitor, an immunosuppressant, and a pharmaceutically acceptable carrier.

71. A composition according to claim 70, wherein the inhibitor and the immunosuppressant are present in the composition in synergistically effective amounts.

72. Use of an endothelial growth factor inhibitor, an immunosuppressant in combination for inducing tolerance or inhibiting rejection of a cell, tissue or organ transplant or for inhibiting arteriosclerosis in a transplant recipient.

73. Use of an endothelial growth factor inhibitor, an immunosuppressant and an antibiotic or antifungal agent in combination for inducing tolerance or inhibiting rejection of a cell, tissue or organ transplant or for inhibiting arteriosclerosis in a transplant recipient.

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