ABSTRACT: Nonmuscle myosin light chain kinase (nmMLCK), a multi-functional cytoskeletal protein critical to vascular homeostasis, is highly regulated by tyrosine phosphorylation. We identified multiple novel c-Abl-mediated nmMLCK phosphorylation sites by mass spectroscopy analysis (including Y231, Y464, Y556, Y846) and examined their influence on nmMLCK function and human lung endothelial cell (EC) barrier regulation. Tyrosine phosphorylation of nmMLCK increased kinase activity, reversed nmMLCK-mediated inhibition of Arp2/3-mediated actin polymerization, and enhanced binding to the critical actin-binding phosphotyrosine protein, cortactin. EC challenge with sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P), a potent barrier-enhancing agonist, resulted in c-Abl and phosphorylated nmMLCK recruitment into caveolin-enriched microdomains, rapid increases in Abl kinase activity, and spatial targeting of c-Abl to barrier-promoting cortical actin structures. Conversely, reduced c-Abl expression in EC (siRNA) markedly attenuated S1P-mediated cortical actin formation, reduced the EC modulus of elasticity (assessed by atomic force microscopy), reduced nmMLCK and cortactin tyrosine phosphorylation, and attenuated S1P-mediated barrier enhancement. These studies indicate an essential role for Abl kinase in vascular barrier regulation via posttranslational modification of nmMLCK and strongly support c-Abl-cortactin-nmMLCK interaction as a novel determinant of cortical actin-based cytoskeletal rearrangement critical to S1P-mediated EC barrier enhancement.
Project description:Sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P), a lipid growth factor, is critical to the maintenance and enhancement of vascular barrier function via processes highly dependent upon cell membrane raft-mediated signaling events. Anti-phosphotyrosine 2 dimensional gel electrophoresis (2-DE) immunoblots confirmed that disruption of membrane raft formation (via methyl-beta-cyclodextrin) inhibits S1P-induced protein tyrosine phosphorylation. To explore S1P-induced dynamic changes in membrane rafts, we used 2-D techniques to define proteins within detergent-resistant cell membrane rafts which are differentially expressed in S1P-challenged (1microM, 5min) human pulmonary artery endothelial cells (EC), with 57 protein spots exhibiting >3-fold change. S1P induced the recruitment of over 20 cell membrane raft proteins exhibiting increasing levels of tyrosine phosphorylation including known barrier-regulatory proteins such as focal adhesion kinase (FAK), cortactin, p85alpha phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (p85alphaPI3K), myosin light chain kinase (nmMLCK), filamin A/C, and the non-receptor tyrosine kinase, c-Abl. Reduced expression of either FAK, MLCK, cortactin, filamin A or filamin C by siRNA transfection significantly attenuated S1P-induced EC barrier enhancement. Furthermore, S1P induced cell membrane raft components, p-caveolin-1 and glycosphingolipid (GM1), to the plasma membrane and enhanced co-localization of membrane rafts with p-caveolin-1 and p-nmMLCK. These results suggest that S1P induces both the tyrosine phosphorylation and recruitment of key actin cytoskeletal proteins to membrane rafts, resulting in enhanced human EC barrier function.
Project description:Vascular barrier regulation is intimately linked to alterations in the distribution and configuration of the endothelial cell (EC) cytoskeleton in response to angiogenic and edemagenic agonists. Critical actin cytoskeletal rearrangement includes spatially directed increases in myosin light chain (MLC) phosphorylation, catalyzed by Ca(2+)/calmodulin-dependent non-muscle myosin light chain kinase variants (nmMLCK1- and -2), as well as association of nmMLCK with the actin-binding protein, cortactin. As these associations have proven difficult to quantify in a spatially specific manner, we now describe the utility of intensity correlation image analysis and the intensity correlation quotient (ICQ) to quantify colocalization in fixed and live cell imaging assays in human pulmonary artery EC. From baseline ICQ values averaging 0.216 reflecting colocalization of cortactin-DsRed with EGFP-nmMLCK fusion proteins in resting EC, thrombin-induced EC contraction significantly reduced cortactin-DsRed-EGFP-nmMLCK colocalization (nmMLCK1: ICQ=0.118; nmMLCK2: ICQ=0.091) whereas the potent EC barrier-protective agonist, sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P), significantly increased nmMLCK-cortactin colocalization within lamellipodia (nmMLCK1: ICQ=0.275; nmMLCK2: ICQ=0.334). Over-expression of a cortactin-DsRed mutant fusion protein lacking the SH3 domain, known to be essential for cortactin-nmMLCK association, reduced baseline and S1P-mediated live cell colocalization with each nmMLCK variant (nmMLCK1: ICQ=0.160; nmMLCK2: ICQ=0.157). Similarly, expression of a truncated EGFP-nmMLCK2 mutant lacking cortactin- and actin-binding domains, markedly reduced basal localization in lamellipodia and abolished colocalization with cortactin-DsRed in lamellipodia after S1P (ICQ=-0.148). These data provide insights into the molecular basis for vascular barrier-regulatory cytoskeletal responses and support the utility of sophisticated imaging analyses and methodological assessment to quantify the critical nmMLCK and cortactin interaction during vascular barrier regulation.
Project description:Disruption of the pulmonary endothelial barrier and subsequent vascular leak is a hallmark of acute lung injury. Dynamic rearrangements in the endothelial cell (EC) peripheral membrane and underlying cytoskeleton are critical determinants of barrier function. The cytoskeletal effector protein non-muscle myosin light chain kinase (nmMLCK) and the actin-binding regulatory protein cortactin are important regulators of the endothelial barrier. In the present study we functionally characterize a proline-rich region of nmMLCK previously identified as the possible site of interaction between nmMLCK and cortactin. A mutant nmMLCK construct deficient in proline residues at the putative sites of cortactin binding (amino acids 973, 976, 1019, 1022) was generated. Co-immunoprecipitation studies in human lung EC transfected with wild-type or mutant nmMLCK demonstrated similar levels of cortactin interaction at baseline and after stimulation with the barrier-enhancing agonist, sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P). In contrast, binding studies utilizing recombinant nmMLCK fragments containing the wild-type or proline-deficient sequence demonstrated a two-fold increase in cortactin binding (p<0.01) to the mutant construct. Immunofluorescent microscopy revealed an increased stress fiber density in ECs expressing GFP-labeled mutant nmMLCK at baseline (p=0.02) and after thrombin (p=0.01) or S1P (p=0.02) when compared to wild-type. Mutant nmMLCK demonstrated an increase in kinase activity in response to thrombin (p<0.01). Kymographic analysis demonstrated an increased EC membrane retraction distance and velocity (p<0.01) in response to the barrier disrupting agent thrombin in cells expressing the mutant vs. the wild-type nmMLCK construct. These results provide evidence that critical prolines within nmMLCK (amino acids 973, 976, 1019, 1022) regulate cytoskeletal and membrane events associated with pulmonary endothelial barrier function.
Project description:Sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P) is a potent bioactive endogenous lipid that signals a rearrangement of the actin cytoskeleton via the regulation of non-muscle myosin light chain kinase isoform (nmMLCK). S1P induces critical nmMLCK Y464 and Y471 phosphorylation resulting in translocation of nmMLCK to the periphery where spatially-directed increases in myosin light chain (MLC) phosphorylation and tension result in lamellipodia protrusion, increased cell-cell adhesion, and enhanced vascular barrier integrity. MYLK, the gene encoding nmMLCK, is a known candidate gene in lung inflammatory diseases, with coding genetic variants (Pro21His, Ser147Pro, Val261Ala) that confer risk for inflammatory lung injury and influence disease severity. The functional mechanisms by which these MYLK coding single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) affect biologic processes to increase disease risk and severity remain elusive. In the current study, we utilized quantifiable cell immunofluorescence assays to determine the influence of MYLK coding SNPs on S1P-mediated nmMLCK phosphorylation and translocation to the human lung endothelial cell (EC) periphery . These disease-associated MYLK variants result in reduced levels of S1P-induced Y464 phosphorylation, a key site for nmMLCK enzymatic regulation and activation. Reduced Y464 phosphorylation resulted in attenuated nmMLCK protein translocation to the cell periphery. We further conducted EC kymographic assays which confirmed that lamellipodial protrusion in response to S1P challenge was retarded by expression of a MYLK transgene harboring the three MYLK coding SNPs. These data suggest that ARDS/severe asthma-associated MYLK SNPs functionally influence vascular barrier-regulatory cytoskeletal responses via direct alterations in the levels of nmMLCK tyrosine phosphorylation, spatial localization, and lamellipodial protrusions.
Project description:Novel therapeutic strategies are needed to reverse the loss of endothelial cell (EC) barrier integrity that occurs during inflammatory disease states such as acute lung injury. We previously demonstrated potent EC barrier augmentation in vivo and in vitro by the platelet-derived phospholipid, sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P) via ligation of the S1P1 receptor. The S1P analogue, FTY720, similarly exerts barrier-protective vascular effects via presumed S1P1 receptor ligation. We examined the role of the S1P1 receptor in sphingolipid-mediated human lung EC barrier enhancement. Both S1P and FTY-induced sustained, dose-dependent barrier enhancement, reflected by increases in transendothelial electrical resistance (TER), which was abolished by pertussis toxin indicating Gi-coupled receptor activation. FTY-mediated increases in TER exhibited significantly delayed onset and intensity relative to the S1P response. Reduction of S1P1R expression (via siRNA) attenuated S1P-induced TER elevations whereas the TER response to FTY was unaffected. Both S1P and FTY rapidly (within 5 min) induced S1P1R accumulation in membrane lipid rafts, but only S1P stimulated S1P1R phosphorylation on threonine residues. Inhibition of PI3 kinase activity attenuated S1P-mediated TER increases but failed to alter FTY-induced TER elevation. Finally, S1P, but not FTY, induced significant myosin light chain phosphorylation and dramatic actin cytoskeletal rearrangement whereas reduced expression of the cytoskeletal effectors, Rac1 and cortactin (via siRNA), attenuated S1P-, but not FTY-induced TER elevations. These results mechanistically characterize pulmonary vascular barrier regulation by FTY720, suggesting a novel barrier-enhancing pathway for modulating vascular permeability.
Project description:Disruption of pulmonary endothelial cell (EC) barrier function is a critical pathophysiologic event in highly morbid inflammatory conditions such as sepsis and acute respiratory disease stress syndrome. Actin cytoskeleton, an essential regulator of endothelial permeability, is a dynamic structure whose stimuli-induced rearrangement is linked to barrier modulation. Here, we used atomic force microscopy to characterize structural and mechanical changes in the F-actin cytoskeleton of cultured human pulmonary artery EC in response to both barrier-enhancing (induced by sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P)) and barrier-disrupting (induced by thrombin) conditions. Atomic force microscopy elasticity measurements show differential effects: for the barrier protecting molecule S1P, the elastic modulus was elevated significantly on the periphery; for the barrier-disrupting molecule thrombin, on the other hand, it was elevated significantly in the central region of the cell. The force and elasticity maps correlate with F-actin rearrangements as identified by immunofluorescence analysis. Significantly, reduced expression (via siRNA) of cortactin, an actin-binding protein essential to EC barrier regulation, resulted in a shift in the S1P-mediated elasticity pattern to more closely resemble control, unstimulated endothelium.
Project description:Profilin-1 (Pfn-1) is an actin-regulatory protein that has a role in modulating smooth muscle contraction. However, the mechanisms that regulate Pfn-1 in smooth muscle are not fully understood. Here, stimulation with acetylcholine induced an increase in the association of the adapter protein cortactin with Pfn-1 in smooth muscle cells/tissues. Furthermore, disruption of the protein/protein interaction by a cell-permeable peptide (CTTN-I peptide) attenuated actin polymerization and smooth muscle contraction without affecting myosin light chain phosphorylation at Ser-19. Knockdown of cortactin by lentivirus-mediated RNAi also diminished actin polymerization and smooth muscle force development. However, cortactin knockdown did not affect myosin activation. In addition, cortactin phosphorylation has been implicated in nonmuscle cell migration. In this study, acetylcholine stimulation induced cortactin phosphorylation at Tyr-421 in smooth muscle cells. Phenylalanine substitution at this position impaired cortactin/Pfn-1 interaction in response to contractile activation. c-Abl is a tyrosine kinase that is necessary for actin dynamics and contraction in smooth muscle. Here, c-Abl silencing inhibited the agonist-induced cortactin phosphorylation and the association of cortactin with Pfn-1. Finally, treatment with CTTN-I peptide reduced airway resistance and smooth muscle hyperreactivity in a murine model of asthma. These results suggest that the interaction of cortactin with Pfn-1 plays a pivotal role in regulating actin dynamics, smooth muscle contraction, and airway hyperresponsiveness in asthma. The association of cortactin with Pfn-1 is regulated by c-Abl-mediated cortactin phosphorylation.
Project description:Endothelial cell (EC) barrier dysfunction induced by inflammatory agonists is a frequent pathophysiologic event in multiple diseases. The platelet-derived phospholipid sphingosine-1 phosphate (S1P) reverses this dysfunction by potently enhancing the EC barrier through a process involving Rac GTPase-dependent cortical actin rearrangement as an integral step. In this study we explored the role of the ezrin, radixin, and moesin (ERM) family of actin-binding linker protein in modulating S1P-induced human pulmonary EC barrier enhancement. S1P induces ERM translocation to the EC periphery and promotes ERM phosphorylation on a critical threonine residue (Ezrin-567, Radixin-564, Moesin-558). This phosphorylation is dependent on activation of PKC isoforms and Rac1. The majority of ERM phosphorylation on these critical threonine residues after S1P occurs in moesin and ezrin. Baseline radixin phosphorylation is higher than in the other two ERM proteins but does not increase after S1P. S1P-induced moesin and ezrin threonine phosphorylation is not mediated by the barrier enhancing receptor S1PR1 because siRNA downregulation of S1PR1 fails to inhibit these phosphorylation events, while stimulation of EC with the S1PR1-specific agonist SEW2871 fails to induce these phosphorylation events. Silencing of either all ERM proteins or radixin alone (but not moesin alone) reduced S1P-induced Rac1 activation and phosphorylation of the downstream Rac1 effector PAK1. Radixin siRNA alone, or combined siRNA for all three ERM proteins, dramatically attenuates S1P-induced EC barrier enhancement (measured by transendothelial electrical resistance (TER), peripheral accumulation of di-phospho-MLC, and cortical cytoskeletal rearrangement. In contrast, moesin depletion has the opposite effects on these parameters. Ezrin silencing partially attenuates S1P-induced EC barrier enhancement and cytoskeletal changes. Thus, despite structural similarities and reported functional redundancy, the ERM proteins differentially modulate S1P-induced alterations in lung EC cytoskeleton and permeability. These results suggest that ERM activation is an important regulatory event in EC barrier responses to S1P.
Project description:c-Abl is a nonreceptor protein tyrosine kinase that has a role in regulating smooth muscle cell proliferation and contraction. The role of c-Abl in smooth muscle cell migration has not been investigated. In the present study, c-Abl was found in the leading edge of smooth muscle cells. Knockdown of c-Abl by RNA interference attenuated smooth muscle cell motility as evidenced by time-lapse microscopy. Furthermore, the actin-associated proteins cortactin and profilin-1 (Pfn-1) have been implicated in cell migration. In this study, cell adhesion induced cortactin phosphorylation at Tyr-421, an indication of cortactin activation. Phospho-cortactin and Pfn-1 were also found in the cell edge. Pfn-1 directly interacted with cortactin in vitro. Silencing of c-Abl attenuated adhesion-induced cortactin phosphorylation and Pfn-1 localization in the cell edge. To assess the role of cortactin/Pfn-1 coupling, we developed a cell-permeable peptide. Treatment with the peptide inhibited the interaction of cortactin with Pfn-1 without affecting cortactin phosphorylation. Moreover, treatment with the peptide impaired the recruitment of Pfn-1 to the leading edge and cell migration. Finally, β1-integrin was required for the recruitment of c-Abl to the cell edge. Inhibition of actin dynamics impaired the spatial distribution of c-Abl. These results suggest that β1-integrin may recruit c-Abl to the leading cell edge, which may regulate cortactin phosphorylation in response to cell adhesion. Phosphorylated cortactin may facilitate the recruitment of Pfn-1 to the cell edge, which promotes localized actin polymerization, leading edge formation, and cell movement. Conversely, actin dynamics may strengthen the recruitment of c-Abl to the leading edge.
Project description:Endothelial cell (EC) barrier dysfunction results in increased vascular permeability, leading to increased mass transport across the vessel wall and leukocyte extravasation, the key mechanisms in pathogenesis of tissue inflammation and edema. We have previously demonstrated that OxPAPC (oxidized 1-palmitoyl-2-arachidonoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine) significantly enhances vascular endothelial barrier properties in vitro and in vivo and attenuates endothelial hyperpermeability induced by inflammatory and edemagenic agents via Rac and Cdc42 GTPase dependent mechanisms. These findings suggested potential important therapeutic value of barrier-protective oxidized phospholipids. In this study, we examined involvement of signaling complexes associated with caveolin-enriched microdomains (CEMs) in barrier-protective responses of human pulmonary ECs to OxPAPC. Immunoblotting from OxPAPC-treated ECs revealed OxPAPC-mediated rapid recruitment (5 minutes) to CEMs of the sphingosine 1-phosphate receptor (S1P(1)), the serine/threonine kinase Akt, and the Rac1 guanine nucleotide exchange factor Tiam1 and phosphorylation of caveolin-1, indicative of signaling activation in CEMs. Abolishing CEM formation (methyl-beta-cyclodextrin) blocked OxPAPC-mediated Rac1 activation, cytoskeletal reorganization, and EC barrier enhancement. Silencing (small interfering RNA) Akt expression blocked OxPAPC-mediated S1P(1) activation (threonine phosphorylation), whereas silencing S1P(1) receptor expression blocked OxPAPC-mediated Tiam1 recruitment to CEMs, Rac1 activation, and EC barrier enhancement. To confirm our in vitro results in an in vivo murine model of acute lung injury with pulmonary vascular hyperpermeability, we observed that selective lung silencing of caveolin-1 or S1P(1) receptor expression blocked OxPAPC-mediated protection from ventilator-induced lung injury. Taken together, these results suggest Akt-dependent transactivation of S1P(1) within CEMs is important for OxPAPC-mediated cortical actin rearrangement and EC barrier protection.