Haemodynamic and extracellular matrix cues regulate the mechanical phenotype and stiffness of aortic endothelial cells.
ABSTRACT: Endothelial cells (ECs) lining blood vessels express many mechanosensors, including platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule-1 (PECAM-1), that convert mechanical force into biochemical signals. While it is accepted that mechanical stresses and the mechanical properties of ECs regulate vessel health, the relationship between force and biological response remains elusive. Here we show that ECs integrate mechanical forces and extracellular matrix (ECM) cues to modulate their own mechanical properties. We demonstrate that the ECM influences EC response to tension on PECAM-1. ECs adherent on collagen display divergent stiffening and focal adhesion growth compared with ECs on fibronectin. This is because of protein kinase A (PKA)-dependent serine phosphorylation and inactivation of RhoA. PKA signalling regulates focal adhesion dynamics and EC compliance in response to shear stress in vitro and in vivo. Our study identifies an ECM-specific, mechanosensitive signalling pathway that regulates EC compliance and may serve as an atheroprotective mechanism that maintains blood vessel integrity in vivo.
Project description:Mechanosensing followed by mechanoresponses by cells is well established, but the mechanisms by which mechanical force is converted into biochemical events are poorly understood. Vascular endothelial cells (ECs) exhibit flow- and stretch-dependent responses and are widely used as a model for studying mechanotransduction in mammalian cells. Platelet EC adhesion molecule 1 (PECAM-1) is tyrosine phosphorylated when ECs are exposed to flow or when PECAM-1 is directly pulled, suggesting that it is a mechanochemical converter. We show that PECAM-1 phosphorylation occurs when detergent-extracted EC monolayers are stretched, indicating that this phosphorylation is mechanically triggered and does not require the intact plasma membrane and soluble cytoplasmic components. Using kinase inhibitors and small interfering RNAs, we identify Fyn as the PECAM-1 kinase associated with the model. We further show that stretch- and flow-induced PECAM-1 phosphorylation in intact ECs is abolished when Fyn expression is down-regulated. We suggest that PECAM-1 and Fyn are essential components of a PECAM-1-based mechanosensory complex in ECs.
Project description:Adipose stromal cells (ASCs) express markers and functional properties of pericytes in vitro and, in combination with endothelial cells (ECs), are able to establish multilayer functional vessels in vivo. However, the factors that coordinate EC-ASC communications to promote migration of these cells toward one another, and their heterotypic assembly into vascular structures are not well defined. To understand the mechanisms of EC-ASC interaction, we developed an in vitro model of coculturing ECs with ASCs in a system containing serum but no additional exogenous cytokines or extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins. We demonstrated that ASCs have a profound potential to stimulate morphogenesis of ECs into branching networks of cord structures. The vascular networks developed in 6 days and were stable for at least 3 weeks. This process was associated with an increase in ECM protein production by ASCs and ECs, alpha-smooth muscle actin expression by ASCs, and increased CD31/platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule-1 (PECAM-1) surface presentation by ECs. The vascular network formation (VNF) was dependent on matrix metalloproteinase activity and cell communications through vascular endothelial growth factor, hepatocyte growth factor, and platelet-derived growth factor-BB pathways. ASCs exhibited significantly higher potential to stimulate VNF than smooth muscle cells and fibroblasts. Media conditioned by ASCs promoted VNF by ECs cultured on smooth muscle cells and fibroblasts, but could not replace the presence of ASCs in coculture. The presence of ASCs in EC-fibroblast cocultures in a low fraction efficiently stimulated VNF. These findings demonstrate that the vasculogenesis-promoting potential of ASCs depends on interaction with ECs involving contact and likely bi-directional interaction, resulting in modulated secretion of cytokines and ECM proteins.
Project description:The formation of cell-cell and cell-extra cellular matrix (ECM) contacts by endothelial cells (ECs) is crucial for the stability and integrity of a vascular network. We previously identified cingulin-like 1 (Cgnl1) in a transcriptomic screen for new angiogenic modulators. Here we aim to study the function of the cell-cell junction associated protein Cgnl1 during vessel formation.Unlike family member cingulin, Cgnl1 expression is enriched in ECs during vascular growth. Cgnl1 is important for the formation of multicellular tubule structures, as shown in vitro using loss-of function assays in a 3D matrix co-culture system that uses primary human ECs and supporting mural cells. Further studies revealed that Cgnl1 regulates vascular growth by promoting Ve-cadherin association with the actin cytoskeleton, thereby stabilizing adherens junctions. Cgnl1 also regulates focal adhesion assembly in response to ECM contact, promoting vinculin and paxillin recruitment and focal adhesion kinase signalling. In vivo, we demonstrate in a postnatal retinal vascular development model in mice that Cgnl1 function is crucial for sustaining neovascular growth and stability.Our data demonstrate a functional relevance for Cgnl1 as a defining factor in new vessel formation both in vitro and in vivo.
Project description:PEAK1 is a newly described tyrosine kinase and scaffold protein that transmits integrin-mediated extracellular matrix (ECM) signals to facilitate cell movement and growth. While aberrant expression of PEAK1 has been linked to cancer progression, its normal physiological role in vertebrate biology is not known. Here we provide evidence that PEAK1 plays a central role in orchestrating new vessel formation in vertebrates. Deletion of the PEAK1 gene in zebrafish, mice, and human endothelial cells (ECs) induced severe defects in new blood vessel formation due to deficiencies in EC proliferation, survival, and migration. Gene transcriptional and proteomic analyses of PEAK1-deficient ECs revealed a significant loss of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2 (VEGFR2) mRNA and protein expression, as well as downstream signaling to its effectors, ERK, Akt, and Src kinase. PEAK1 regulates VEGFR2 expression by binding to and increasing the protein stability of the transcription factor GATA-binding protein 2 (GATA2), which controls VEGFR2 transcription. Importantly, PEAK1-GATA2-dependent VEGFR2 expression is mediated by EC adhesion to the ECM and is required for breast cancer-induced new vessel formation in mice. Also, elevated expression of PEAK1 and VEGFR2 mRNA are highly correlated in many human cancers including breast cancer. Together, our findings reveal a novel PEAK1-GATA2-VEGFR2 signaling axis that integrates cell adhesion and growth factor cues from the extracellular environment necessary for new vessel formation during vertebrate development and cancer.
Project description:Mechanical forces regulate cell behavior and function during development, differentiation, and tissue morphogenesis. In the vascular system, forces produced by blood flow are critical determinants not only of morphogenesis and function, but also of pathological states such as atherosclerosis. Endothelial cells (ECs) have numerous mechanotransducers, including platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule-1 (PECAM-1) at cell-cell junctions and integrins at cell-matrix adhesions. However, the processes by which forces are transduced to biochemical signals and subsequently translated into downstream effects are poorly understood.Here, we examine mechanochemical signaling in response to direct force application on PECAM-1. We demonstrate that localized tensional forces on PECAM-1 result in, surprisingly, global signaling responses. Specifically, force-dependent activation of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) downstream of PECAM-1 promotes cell-wide activation of integrins and the small GTPase RhoA. These signaling events facilitate changes in cytoskeletal architecture, including growth of focal adhesions and adaptive cytoskeletal stiffening.Taken together, our work provides the first evidence of a global signaling event in response to a localized mechanical stress. In addition, these data provide a possible mechanism for the differential stiffness of vessels exposed to distinct hemodynamic force patterns in vivo.
Project description:Fluid shear stress (FSS) induces many forms of responses, including phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) in endothelial cells (ECs). We have earlier reported rapid tyrosine phosphorylation of platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule-1 (PECAM-1) in ECs exposed to FSS. Osmotic changes also induced similar PECAM-1 and ERK phosphorylation with nearly identical kinetics. Because both FSS and osmotic changes should mechanically perturb the cell membrane, they might activate the same mechanosignaling cascade. When PECAM-1 is tyrosine phosphorylated by FSS or osmotic changes, SHP-2 binds to it. Here we show that ERK phosphorylation by FSS or osmotic changes depends on PECAM-1 tyrosine phosphorylation, SHP-2 binding to phospho-PECAM-1, and SHP-2 phosphatase activity. In ECs under flow, detectable amounts of SHP-2 and Gab1 translocated from the cytoplasm to the EC junction. When magnetic beads coated with antibodies against the extracellular domain of PECAM-1 were attached to ECs and tugged by magnetic force for 10 min, PECAM-1 associated with the beads was tyrosine phosphorylated. ERK was also phosphorylated in these cells. Binding of the beads by itself or pulling on the cell surface using poly-l-coated beads did not induce phosphorylation of PECAM-1 and ERK. These results suggest that PECAM-1 is a mechanotransduction molecule.
Project description:Binding of angiopoietin-1 (Ang-1) to its receptor Tie2 on endothelial cells (ECs) promotes vessel barrier integrity and angiogenesis. Here, we identify PAK2 and paxillin as critical targets of Ang-1 responsible for EC migration, polarization, and sprouting. We found that Ang-1 increases PAK2-dependent paxillin phosphorylation and remodeling of focal adhesions and that PAK2 and paxillin are required for EC polarization, migration, and angiogenic sprouting in response to Ang-1. Our findings show that Ang-1 triggers Cdc42 activation at the leading edges of migrating ECs, which is dependent on PAK2 and paxillin expression. We also established that the polarity protein Par3 interacts with Cdc42 in response to Ang-1 in a PAK2- and paxillin-dependent manner. Par3 is recruited at the leading edges of migrating cells and in focal adhesion, where it forms a signaling complex with PAK2 and paxillin in response to Ang-1. These results show that Ang-1 triggers EC polarization and angiogenic sprouting through PAK2-dependent paxillin activation and remodeling of focal adhesions, which are necessary for local activation of Cdc42 and the associated polarity complex. We have shown that PAK2 controls a signaling pathway important for angiogenic sprouting that links focal adhesions to polarity signaling in ECs.
Project description:The Rho family of small GTPases has been shown to be required in endothelial cells (ECs) during blood vessel formation. However, the underlying cellular events controlled by different GTPases remain unclear. Here, we assess the cellular mechanisms by which Cdc42 regulates mammalian vascular morphogenesis and maintenance. In vivo deletion of Cdc42 in embryonic ECs (Cdc42(Tie2KO)) results in blocked lumen formation and endothelial tearing, leading to lethality of mutant embryos by E9-10 due to failed blood circulation. Similarly, inducible deletion of Cdc42 (Cdc42(Cad5KO)) at mid-gestation blocks angiogenic tubulogenesis. By contrast, deletion of Cdc42 in postnatal retinal vessels leads to aberrant vascular remodeling and sprouting, as well as markedly reduced filopodia formation. We find that Cdc42 is essential for organization of EC adhesion, as its loss results in disorganized cell-cell junctions and reduced focal adhesions. Endothelial polarity is also rapidly lost upon Cdc42 deletion, as seen by failed localization of apical podocalyxin (PODXL) and basal actin. We link observed failures to a defect in F-actin organization, both in vitro and in vivo, which secondarily impairs EC adhesion and polarity. We also identify Cdc42 effectors Pak2/4 and N-WASP, as well as the actomyosin machinery, to be crucial for EC actin organization. This work supports the notion of Cdc42 as a central regulator of the cellular machinery in ECs that drives blood vessel formation.
Project description:Isthmin (ISM) is a 60 kDa secreted-angiogenesis inhibitor that suppresses tumor growth in mouse and disrupts vessel patterning in zebrafish embryos. It selectively binds to alphavbeta5 (?v?5) integrin on the surface of endothelial cells (ECs), but the mechanism of its antiangiogenic action remains unknown. In this work, we establish that soluble ISM suppresses in vitro angiogenesis and induces EC apoptosis by interacting with its cell surface receptor ?v?5 integrin through a novel 'RKD' motif localized within its adhesion-associated domain in MUC4 and other proteins domain. ISM induces EC apoptosis through integrin-mediated death (IMD) by direct recruitment and activation of caspase-8 without causing anoikis. On the other hand, immobilized ISM loses its antiangiogenic function and instead promotes EC adhesion, survival and migration through ?v?5 integrin by activating focal adhesion kinase (FAK). ISM unexpectedly has both a pro-survival and death-promoting effect on ECs depending on its physical state. This dual function of a single antiangiogenic protein may impact its antiangiogenic efficacy in vivo.
Project description:Morphogenesis of a vascular network requires dynamic vessel growth and regression. To investigate the cellular mechanism underlying this process, we deleted focal adhesion kinase (FAK), a key signaling mediator, in endothelial cells (ECs) using Tie2-Cre mice. Targeted FAK depletion occurred efficiently early in development, where mutants exhibited a distinctive and irregular vasculature, resulting in hemorrhage and lethality between embryonic day (e) 10.5 and 11.5. Capillaries and intercapillary spaces in yolk sacs were dilated before any other detectable abnormalities at e9.5, and explants demonstrate that the defects resulted from the loss of FAK and not from organ failure. Time-lapse microscopy monitoring EC behavior during vascular formation in explants revealed no apparent decrease in proliferation or migration but revealed increases in cell retraction and death leading to reduced vessel growth and increased vessel regression. Consistent with this phenotype, ECs derived from mutant embryos exhibited aberrant lamellipodial extensions, altered actin cytoskeleton, and nonpolarized cell movement. This study reveals that FAK is crucial for vascular morphogenesis and the regulation of EC survival and morphology.