Atherosclerosis is readily observed in areas where disturbed flow is formed, while the atheroprotective region is found in areas with steady laminar flow (L-flow). It has been established that L-flow protects endothelial cells against endothelial dysfunction, including apoptosis and inflammation. It has also been reported that extracellular signal-regulated kinase 5 (ERK5) regulated endothelial integrity and protected endothelial cells from vascular dysfunction and disease under L-flow. However, the molecular mechanism by which L-flow-induced ERK5 activation inhibits endothelial apoptosis has not yet been determined. Transcription factor p53 is a major pro-apoptotic factor which contributes to apoptosis in various cell types. In this study, we found that 15-deoxy-Δ(12,14)-prostaglandin J2 induced p53 expression and that endothelial apoptosis was reduced under the L-flow condition. This anti-apoptotic response was reversed by the biochemical inhibition of ERK5 activation. It was also found that activation of ERK5 protected endothelial apoptosis in a C terminus of Hsc70-interacting protein (CHIP) ubiquitin ligase-dependent manner. Moreover, molecular interaction between ERK5-CHIP and p53 ubiquitination were addressed with a CHIP ubiquitin ligase activity assay. Taken together, our data suggest that the ERK5-CHIP signal module elicited by L-flow plays an important role in the anti-apoptotic mechanism in endothelial cells.
Keywords: Laminar flow, Endothelial apoptosis, ERK5, CHIP, p53