Emerging evidence is revealing the different roles of steady laminar flow (s-flow) and disturbed flow (d-flow) in the regulation of the vascular endothelium. s-flow is atheroprotective while d-flow creates an atheroprone environment. Most recently, we found unique atheroprone signals, which involve protein kinase C (PKC)ζ activation, elicited by d-flow. We and others have defined a novel role for PKCζ as a shared mediator for tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF alpha) and d-flow, which cause pro-inflammatory and pro-apoptotic events in endothelial cells (ECs) in the atheroprone environment. Under such conditions, ONOO− formation is increased in a d-flow-mediated PKCζ-dependent manner. Here, we propose a new signaling pathway involving d-flow-induced EC inflammation via PKCζ – ERK5 interaction-mediated downregulation of KLF2/eNOS stability, which leads to PKCζ-mediated p53-SUMOylation and EC apoptosis. In addition, we highlight several mechanisms contributing to endothelial dysfunction, focusing on the relations between flow patterns and activation of reactive oxygen species generating enzymes.
Atherosclerosis; Blood flow; Endothelial dysfunction; Oxidative stress
It is well accepted that atherosclerosis occurs in a site-specific manner especially at branch points where disturbed blood flow (d-flow) predisposes to the development of plaques. Investigations both in vivo and in vitro have shown that d-flow is pro-atherogenic by promoting oxidative and inflammatory states in the artery wall. In contrast, steady laminar blood flow (s-flow) is atheroprotective by inhibition of oxidative stress and inflammation in the vessel wall. The mechanism for inflammation in endothelial cells (ECs) exposed to d-flow has been well studied and includes redox-dependent activation of apoptosis signal-regulating kinase 1 (ASK1) and Jun NH2-terminal kinase (JNK) that ultimately lead to the expression of adhesive molecules. In contrast, s-flow leads to the activation of the mitogen extracellular-signal-regulated kinase kinase 5/extracellular signal-regulated kinase-5 (MEK5/ERK5) pathway that prevents pro-inflammatory signaling. Important transcriptional events that reflect the pro-oxidant and pro-inflammatory condition of ECs in d-flow include the activation of activator protein 1 (AP-1) and nuclear factor kappaB (NFκB), whereas in s-flow, activation of Krüppel-like factor 2 (KLF2) and nuclear factor erythroid 2-like 2 (Nrf2) are dominant. Recent studies have shown that protein kinase c zeta (PKCζ) is highly activated under d-flow conditions and may represent a molecular switch for EC signaling and gene expression. The targeted modulation of proteins activated in a site-specific manner holds the promise for a new approach to limit atherosclerosis. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 15, 1405–1414.
Disturbed flow-mediated PKCζ–PIASy association is critical for p53 SUMOylation and induces p53 nuclear export and endothelial cell apoptosis.
Atherosclerosis is readily observed in regions of blood vessels where disturbed blood flow (d-flow) is known to occur. A positive correlation between protein kinase C ζ (PKCζ) activation and d-flow has been reported, but the exact role of d-flow–mediated PKCζ activation in atherosclerosis remains unclear. We tested the hypothesis that PKCζ activation by d-flow induces endothelial cell (EC) apoptosis by regulating p53. We found that d-flow–mediated peroxynitrite (ONOO−) increased PKCζ activation, which subsequently induced p53 SUMOylation, p53–Bcl-2 binding, and EC apoptosis. Both d-flow and ONOO− increased the association of PKCζ with protein inhibitor of activated STATy (PIASy) via the Siz/PIAS-RING domain (amino acids 301–410) of PIASy, and overexpression of this domain of PIASy disrupted the PKCζ–PIASy interaction and PKCζ-mediated p53 SUMOylation. En face confocal microscopy revealed increases in nonnuclear p53 expression, nitrotyrosine staining, and apoptosis in aortic EC located in d-flow areas in wild-type mice, but these effects were significantly decreased in p53−/− mice. We propose a novel mechanism for p53 SUMOylation mediated by the PKCζ–PIASy interaction during d-flow–mediated EC apoptosis, which has potential relevance to early events of atherosclerosis.
Steady laminar blood flow protects vessels from atherosclerosis. We showed that flow decreased tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF)-mediated VCAM1 expression in endothelial cells (EC) by inhibiting JNK. Here we determined the relative roles of MEK1, MEK5 and their downstream kinases ERK1/2 and BMK1 (ERK5) in flow-mediated inhibition of JNK activation. Steady laminar flow (shear stress = 12 dynes/cm2) increased BMK1 and ERK1/2 activity in EC. Pre-exposing EC for 10 min to flow inhibited TNF activation of JNK by 58%. A key role for BMK1, but not ERK1/2 was shown. 1) Incubation of EC with PD184352, at concentrations that blocked ERK1/2, but not BMK1, had no effect on flow inhibition of TNF-mediated JNK activation. 2) BIX02188, a MEK5-selective inhibitor, completely reversed the inhibitory effects of flow. These findings indicate that flow inhibits TNF-mediated signaling events in EC by a mechanism dependent on activation of MEK5-BMK1, but not MEK1-ERK1/2. These results support a key role for the MEK5-BMK1 signaling pathway in the atheroprotective effects of blood flow.
fluid shear stress; endothelial cells; MAP kinase; TNF; inflammation
As the inner lining of the vessel wall, vascular endothelial cells are poised to act as a signal transduction interface between haemodynamic forces and the underlying vascular smooth-muscle cells. Detailed analyses of fluid mechanics in atherosclerosis-susceptible regions of the vasculature reveal a strong correlation between endothelial cell dysfunction and areas of low mean shear stress and oscillatory flow with flow recirculation. Conversely, steady shear stress stimulates cellular responses that are essential for endothelial cell function and are atheroprotective. The molecular basis of shear-induced mechanochemical signal transduction and the endothelium's ability to discriminate between flow profiles remains largely unclear. Given that fluid shear stress does not involve a traditional receptor/ligand interaction, identification of the molecule(s) responsible for sensing fluid flow and mechanical force discrimination has been difficult. This review will provide an overview of the haemodynamic forces experienced by the vascular endothelium and its role in localizing atherosclerotic lesions within specific regions of the vasculature. Also reviewed are several recent lines of evidence suggesting that both changes in membrane microviscosity linked to heterotrimeric G proteins, and the transmission of tension across the cell membrane to the cell–cell junction where known shear-sensitive proteins are localized, may serve as the primary force-sensing elements of the cell.
mechanochemical signal transduction; shear stress; G proteins; membrane fluidity; atherogenesis
Although the response of endothelial cells to the disturbed blood flow in the vicinity of atherosclerotic lesions is known to be distinct from that elicited by nonatherogenic laminar flow, the mechanisms involved are poorly understood. Our initial studies confirmed that expression of the endothelial receptor tyrosine kinase Tie1 was evident at regions of atherogenic flow in mature animals. We therefore hypothesized that Tie1 plays a role in the endothelial response to atherogenic shear stress. Consistent with this, we found that Tie1+/– mice bred to the apoE-deficient background displayed a 35% reduction in atherosclerosis relative to Tie1+/+;Apoe–/– mice. Since deletion of Tie1 results in embryonic lethality secondary to vascular dysfunction, we used conditional and inducible mutagenesis to study the effect of endothelial-specific Tie1 attenuation on atherogenesis in Apoe–/– mice and found a dose-dependent decrease in atherosclerotic lesions. Analysis of primary aortic endothelial cells indicated that atheroprotective laminar flow decreased Tie1 expression in vitro. Attenuation of Tie1 was associated with an increase in eNOS expression and Tie2 phosphorylation. In addition, Tie1 attenuation increased IkBα expression while decreasing ICAM levels. In summary, we have found that shear stress conditions that modulate atherogenic events also regulate Tie1 expression. Therefore, Tie1 may play a novel proinflammatory role in atherosclerosis.
Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPAR) are ligand-activated transcription factors that form a subfamily of the nuclear receptor gene family. Since both flow and PPARγ have atheroprotective effects and extracellular signal-regulated kinase 5 (ERK5) kinase activity is significantly increased by flow, we investigated whether ERK5 kinase regulates PPARγ activity. We found that activation of ERK5 induced PPARγ1 activation in endothelial cells (ECs). However, we could not detect PPARγ phosphorylation by incubation with activated ERK5 in vitro, in contrast to ERK1/2 and JNK, suggesting a role for ERK5 as a scaffold. Endogenous PPARγ1 was coimmunoprecipitated with endogenous ERK5 in ECs. By mammalian two-hybrid analysis, we found that PPARγ1 associated with ERK5a at the hinge-helix 1 region of PPARγ1. Expressing a hinge-helix 1 region PPARγ1 fragment disrupted the ERK5a-PPARγ1 interaction, suggesting a critical role for hinge-helix 1 region of PPARγ in the ERK5-PPARγ interaction. Flow increased ERK5 and PPARγ1 activation, and the hinge-helix 1 region of the PPARγ1 fragment and dominant negative MEK5β significantly reduced flow-induced PPARγ activation. The dominant negative MEK5β also prevented flow-mediated inhibition of tumor necrosis factor alpha-mediated NF-κB activation and adhesion molecule expression, including vascular cellular adhesion molecule 1 and E-selectin, indicating a physiological role for ERK5 and PPARγ activation in flow-mediated antiinflammatory effects. We also found that ERK5 kinase activation was required, likely by inducing a conformational change in the NH2-terminal region of ERK5 that prevented association of ERK5 and PPARγ1. Furthermore, association of ERK5a and PPARγ1 disrupted the interaction of SMRT and PPARγ1, thereby inducing PPARγ activation. These data suggest that ERK5 mediates flow- and ligand-induced PPARγ activation via the interaction of ERK5 with the hinge-helix 1 region of PPARγ.
The inflammatory cytokine TNF-α stimulates several presumed pro-atherogenic signaling events in endothelial cells (ECs), including activation of c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase (JNK) and induction of E-selectin. Here, we show that apoptosis signal-regulating kinase 1 (ASK1), a MAP kinase kinase kinase, is required for TNF-mediated JNK activation. TNF activates ASK1 in part by dissociating ASK1 from its inhibitor 14-3-3. Because the risk of atherosclerosis is decreased in regions of steady laminar flow, we hypothesized that laminar flow inhibits proinflammatory cytokine-mediated activation of JNK. Steady laminar flow inhibited both TNF activation of ASK1 and JNK. Inhibition of ASK1 by flow correlated with increased association of ASK1 with 14-3-3. A constitutively active form of ASK1 lacking the 14-3-3-binding site (ASK1-ΔNS967A) was not inhibited by flow. These data establish ASK1 as a target for flow-mediated inhibition of cytokine signaling and indicate a novel role for 14-3-3 as an anti-inflammatory mediator in ECs.
Endothelial cells (ECs) have distinct mechanotransduction mechanisms responding to laminar versus disturbed flow patterns. Endothelial dysfunction, affected by imposed flow, is one of the earliest events leading to atherogenesis. The involvement of γ/δ T lymphocytes in endothelial dysfunction under flow is largely unknown.
To investigate whether shear stress regulates membrane translocation of ATP synthase β chain (ATPSβ) in ECs, leading to the increased γ/δ T-lymphocyte adhesion and the related functions.
Method and Results
We applied different flow patterns to cultured ECs. Laminar flow decreased the level of membrane-bound ATPSβ (ecto-ATPSβ) and depleted membrane cholesterol, whereas oscillatory flow increased the level of ecto-ATPSβ and membrane cholesterol. Incubating ECs with cholesterol or depleting cellular cholesterol with β-cyclodextrin mimicked the effect of oscillatory or laminar flow, respectively. Knockdown caveolin-1 by siRNA prevented ATPSβ translocation in response to laminar flow. Importantly, oscillatory flow or cholesterol treatment elevated the number of γ/δ T cells binding to ECs, which was blocked by anti-ATPSβ antibody. Furthermore, the incubation of γ/δ T cells with ECs increased TNFα and IFNγ secretion from T cells and VCAM-1 expression in ECs. In vivo, γ/δ T-cell adhesion and ATPSβ membrane translocation was elevated in the aortic inner curvature and disturbed flow areas in partially ligated carotid arteries of ApoE−/− mice fed a high-fat diet.
This study provides evidence that disturbed flow and hypercholesterolemia synergistically promote γ/δ T-lymphocyte activation by the membrane translocation of ATPSβ in ECs and in vivo in mice, which is a novel mechanism of endothelial activation.
Endothelial dysfunction; T lymphocyte; Blood flow; Mechanotransduction; ATP synthase
Uncontrolled blood glucose in people with diabetes correlates with endothelial cell dysfunction, which contributes to accelerated atherosclerosis and subsequent myocardial infarction, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease. In vitro, both low and high glucose induce endothelial cell dysfunction; however the effect of altered glucose on endothelial cell fluid flow response has not been studied. This is critical to understanding diabetic cardiovascular disease, since endothelial cell cytoskeletal alignment and nitric oxide release in response to shear stress from flowing blood are atheroprotective. In this study, porcine aortic endothelial cells were cultured in 1, 5.55, and 33 mM D-glucose medium (low, normal, and high glucose) and exposed to 20 dynes/cm2 shear stress for up to 24 hours in a parallel plate flow chamber. Actin alignment and endothelial nitric oxide synthase phosphorylation increased with shear stress for cells in normal glucose, but not cells in low and high glucose. Both low and high glucose elevated protein kinase C (PKC) levels; however PKC blockade only restored actin alignment in high glucose cells. Cells in low glucose instead released vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which translocated β-catenin away from the cell membrane and disabled the mechanosensory complex. Blocking VEGF in low glucose restored cell actin alignment in response to shear stress. These data suggest that low and high glucose alter endothelial cell alignment and nitric oxide production in response to shear stress through different mechanisms.
Vascular endothelial cells (ECs) confer atheroprotection at locations of the arterial tree where pulsatile laminar flow (PS) exists with a high shear stress and a large net forward direction. We investigated whether the PS-induced expression of the transcription factor Krüppel-Like Factor 2 (KLF2) in cultured ECs and its expression in the mouse aorta is regulated by AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK).
Methods and Results
AMPK inhibition by Compound C or siRNA had a significant blocking effect on the PS-induced KLF2 expression. The induction of KLF2 by PS led to the increase in eNOS and the suppression of ET-1, which could be reversed by KLF2 siRNA. In addition, PS induced the phosphorylation of ERK5 and MEF2 which are necessary for the KLF2 expression. These mechanotransduction events were abrogated by the blockade of AMPK. Furthermore, the phosphorylation levels of ERK5 and MEF2, as well as the expression of KLF2, were significantly reduced in the aorta of AMPKα2 knockout mice when compared with wild-type control mice.
The flow-mediated AMPK activation is a newly defined KLF2 regulatory pathway in vascular endothelium that acts via ERK5/MEF2.
shear stress; endothelial cells; KLF2; AMPK; eNOS
Regions in the vasculature that are exposed to steady laminar blood flow are protected from atherosclerosis as compared with regions where flow is disturbed. We found that flow decreased TNF-mediated VCAM1 expression by inhibiting JNK and p38. JNK inhibition correlated with inhibition of apoptosis signal–regulating kinase 1 (ASK1), a JNK and p38 activator. Thioredoxin-interacting protein (TXNIP) is a stress-responsive protein that inhibits thioredoxin (TRX) activity. Since thioredoxin inhibits ASK1, we hypothesized that changes in TXNIP-TRX-ASK1 interactions mediate the antiinflammatory effects of flow. To explore this, we used perfused vessels and cultured ECs. Exposure of rabbit aortae or ECs to normal flow (12 dyn/cm2, 24 hours) was associated with decreased TXNIP expression and increased TRX activity compared with exposure to low flow (0.4 dyn/cm2). Normal flow inhibited TNF activation of JNK/p38 and VCAM1 expression. In cultured ECs, reduction of TXNIP expression by small interfering RNA increased TRX binding to ASK1 and inhibited TNF activation of JNK/p38 and VCAM1 expression. Conversely, overexpression of TXNIP stimulated JNK and p38. In aortae from TXNIP-deficient mice, TNF-induced VCAM1 expression was inhibited. The data suggest that TXNIP and TRX are key components of biomechanical signal transduction and establish them as potentially novel regulators of TNF signaling and inflammation in ECs.
In the face of systemic risk factors, certain regions of the arterial vasculature remain relatively resistant to the development of atherosclerotic lesions. The biomechanically distinct environments in these arterial geometries exert a protective influence via certain key functions of the endothelial lining; however, the mechanisms underlying the coordinated regulation of specific mechano-activated transcriptional programs leading to distinct endothelial functional phenotypes have remained elusive. Here, we show that the transcription factor Kruppel-like factor 2 (KLF2) is selectively induced in endothelial cells exposed to a biomechanical stimulus characteristic of atheroprotected regions of the human carotid and that this flow-mediated increase in expression occurs via a MEK5/ERK5/MEF2 signaling pathway. Overexpression and silencing of KLF2 in the context of flow, combined with findings from genome-wide analyses of gene expression, demonstrate that the induction of KLF2 results in the orchestrated regulation of endothelial transcriptional programs controlling inflammation, thrombosis/hemostasis, vascular tone, and blood vessel development. Our data also indicate that KLF2 expression globally modulates IL-1β–mediated endothelial activation. KLF2 therefore serves as a mechano-activated transcription factor important in the integration of multiple endothelial functions associated with regions of the arterial vasculature that are relatively resistant to atherogenesis.
The endothelium regulates vascular homeostasis, and endothelial dysfunction is a proximate event in the pathogenesis of atherothrombosis. Stimulation of the endothelium with proinflammatory cytokines or exposure to hemodynamic-induced disturbed flow leads to a proadhesive and prothrombotic phenotype that promotes atherothrombosis. In contrast, exposure to arterial laminar flow induces a gene program that confers a largely antiadhesive, antithrombotic effect. The molecular basis for this differential effect on endothelial function remains poorly understood. While recent insights implicate Kruppel-like factors (KLFs) as important regulators of vascular homeostasis, the in vivo role of these factors in endothelial biology remains unproven. Here, we show that endothelial KLF4 is an essential determinant of atherogenesis and thrombosis. Using in vivo EC-specific KLF4 overexpression and knockdown murine models, we found that KLF4 induced an antiadhesive, antithrombotic state. Mechanistically, we demonstrated that KLF4 differentially regulated pertinent endothelial targets via competition for the coactivator p300. These observations provide cogent evidence implicating endothelial KLFs as essential in vivo regulators of vascular function in the adult animal.
Atherosclerosis begins as local inflammation of artery walls at sites of disturbed flow. The c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase (JNK) is thought to be one of the major regulators of flow-dependent inflammatory gene expression in endothelial cells in atherosclerosis. We now show that JNK activation by both onset of laminar flow and long-term oscillatory flow is matrix-specific, with enhanced activation on fibronectin compared to basement membrane protein or collagen. Flow-induced JNK activation on fibronectin requires new integrin ligation, and requires both the MAP kinase kinase MKK4 and p21-activated kinase (PAK). In vivo, JNK activation at sites of early atherogenesis correlates with the deposition of fibronectin. Inhibiting PAK reduces JNK activation in atheroprone regions of the vasculature in vivo. These results identify JNK as a matrix-specific, flow-activated inflammatory event. Together with other studies, these data elucidate a network of matrix-specific pathways that determine inflammatory events in response to fluid shear stress.
shear stress; atherosclerosis; JNK
Vascular endothelial cells (ECs) constantly experience fluid shear stresses generated by blood flow. Laminar flow is known to produce atheroprotective effects on ECs. Nrf2 is a transcription factor that is essential for the antioxidant response element (ARE)-mediated induction of genes such as heme-oxygenase 1 (HO-1). We previously showed that fluid shear stress increases intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) in ECs. Moreover, oxidants are known to stimulate Nrf2. We thus examined the regulation of Nrf2 in cultured human ECs by shear stress.
Exposure of human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) to laminar shear stress (12 dyne/cm2) induced Nrf2 nuclear translocation, which was inhibited by a phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) inhibitor, a protein kinase C (PKC) inhibitor, and an antioxidant agent N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), but not by other protein kinase inhibitors. Therefore, PI3K, PKC, and ROS are involved in the signaling pathway that leads to the shear-induced nuclear translocation of Nrf2. We also found that shear stress increased the ARE-binding activity of Nrf2 and the downstream expression of HO-1.
Our data suggest that the atheroprotective effect of laminar flow is partially attributed to Nrf2 activation which results in ARE-mediated gene transcriptions, such as HO-1 expression, that are beneficial to the cardiovascular system.
Endothelial cells (EC) at regions exposed to disturbed flow (d-flow) are predisposed to inflammation and the subsequent development of atherosclerosis. We previously showed that thioredoxin interacting protein (TXNIP) was required for tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-mediated expression of vascular cell adhesion molecule (VCAM)-1.
We sought to investigate the role of TXNIP in d-flow-induced cell adhesion molecule expression and leukocyte interaction with vessels, and the mechanisms by which TXNIP suppresses athero-protective gene expression.
Methods and Results
Using en face staining of mouse aorta, we found a dramatic increase of TXNIP in EC at sites exposed to d-flow as compared to steady flow (s-flow). EC-specific TXNIP knockout (ECTXNIP KO) mice showed significant decreases in VCAM-1 and intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) mRNA expression in the d-flow regions of mouse aorta. Intravital microscopy of mesenteric venules showed that leukocyte rolling time was decreased, while rolling velocity was increased significantly in EC-TXNIP KO mice. In vitro experiments utilizing a cutout flow chamber to generate varying flow patterns showed that increased TXNIP was required for d-flow-induced EC-monocyte adhesion. Furthermore, we found that the expression of Kruppel-like factor 2 (KLF2), a key anti-inflammatory transcription factor in EC, was inhibited by TXNIP. Luciferase and chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays showed that TXNIP was present within a repressing complex on the KLF2 promoter.
These data demonstrate the essential role for TXNIP in mediating EC-leukocyte adhesion under d-flow, as well as define a novel mechanism by which TXNIP acts as a transcriptional corepressor to regulate KLF2-dependent gene expression.
TXNIP; KLF2; disturbed flow; cell adhesion molecules
The extracellular matrix protein, fibronectin (FN), is focally deposited in regions of atherosclerosis where it contributes to inflammatory signaling.
To elucidate the mechanism by which FN deposition is regulated by local shear stress patterns, its dependence on PECAM-1 mechanotransduction, and the role this pathway plays in sustaining an atheroprone/pro-inflammatory phenotype.
Methods and Results
Human endothelial cells were exposed in vitro to atheroprone or atheroprotective shear stress patterns derived from human carotid arteries. Onset of atheroprotective flow induced a transient increase in FN deposition, whereas atheroprone flow caused a steady increase in FN expression and integrin activation over time, leading to a significant and sustained increase in FN deposition relative to atheroprotective conditions. Comparing FN staining in ApoE−/− and ApoE−/−PECAM−/− mice showed that PECAM-1 was essential for FN accumulation in atheroprone regions of the aortic arch. In vitro, siRNA against PECAM-1 blocked the induction of FN and the activation of NF-κB by atheroprone flow, which was rescued by the addition of exogenous FN. Additionally, blocking NF-κB activation attenuated the flow-induced FN expression. siRNA against FN significantly reduced NF-κB activity, which was rescued by the addition of exogenous FN.
These results indicate that FN gene expression and assembly into matrix fibrils is induced by atheroprone fluid shear stress. This effect is mediated at least in part by the transcription factor NF-κB. Additionally, because FN promotes activation of NF-κB, atheroprone shear stress creates a positive feedback to maintain inflammation.
hemodynamics; atherosclerosis; fibronectin
Disturbed blood flow promotes atherosclerosis mainly by inducing inflammatory gene expression in endothelial cells. Flow stimulates the proinflammatory transcription factor NF-κB through integrin- and Rac-dependent production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Previous work demonstrated that NF-κB activation by flow is matrix-specific, occurring in cells on fibronectin but not collagen. Activation of p21-activated kinase (PAK) followed the same matrix-dependent pattern. We now show that inhibiting PAK in cells on fibronectin blocked NF-κB activation by both laminar and oscillatory flow in vitro and at sites of disturbed flow in vivo. Constitutively active PAK rescued flow-induced NF-κB activation in cells on collagen. Surprisingly, PAK was not required for flow-induced ROS production. Instead, PAK modulated the ability of H2O2 to activate the NF-κB pathway. These data demonstrate that PAK controls NF-κB activation by modulating cells’ sensitivity to ROS.
Fluid shear stress has been shown to be an important regulator of vascular structure and function through its effect on the endothelial cell. We have explored the effect of shear stress on the expression of the heparin-binding growth factors platelet-derived growth factor B chain (PDGF-B) and basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) in bovine aortic endothelial cells using a purpose-built cone-plate viscometer. Using morphometric analysis, we have mimicked the endothelial cell shape changes encountered in vivo in response to shear stress and correlated these with changes in gene expression. Steady laminar shear stress of 15 and 36 dyn/cm2 both resulted in endothelial cell shape change, but the higher shear stress induced greater and more uniform alignment in the direction of flow and nuclear protrusion after 24 h. Steady laminar shear stress of both 15 and 36 dyn/cm2 induced a significant 3.9- and 4.2-fold decrease, respectively, in PDGF-B mRNA at 9 h. In contrast, steady laminar shear of 15 dyn/cm2 induced a mild and transient 1.5-fold increase in bFGF mRNA while shear of 36 dyn/cm2 induced a significant 4.8-fold increase at 6 h of shear which remained at 2.9-fold at 9 h. Pulsatile and turbulent shear stress showed the same effect as steady laminar shear stress (all at 15 dyn/cm2 time-average magnitude) on PDGF-B and bFGF mRNA content. Cyclic stretch (20% strain, 20/min) of cells grown on silicone substrate did not significantly affect either PDGF-B or bFGF mRNA levels. These results suggest that expression of each peptide growth factor gene is differentially regulated by fluid shear stress in the vascular endothelial cell. These results may have implications on vascular structure and function in response to hemodynamic forces and present a model for the study of transduction of mechanical stimuli into altered gene expression.
Fluid shear stress is an important regulator of vascular and endothelial cell (EC) functions. Its effect is dependent not only on magnitude but also on flow type. Although laminar flow predominates in the vasculature, transitional flow can occur and is thought to play a role in vascular diseases. While a great deal is known about the mechanisms and signaling cascades through which laminar shear stress regulates cells, little is known on how transitional shear stress regulates cells. To better understand the response of endothelial cells to transitional shear stress, a novel cylindrical flow chamber was designed to expose endothelial cells to a transitional flow environment similar to that found in vivo. The velocity profiles within the transitional flow chamber at Reynolds numbers 2200 and 3000 were measured using laser Doppler anemometry (LDA). At both Reynolds numbers, the velocity profiles are blunt (non-parabolic) with fluctuations larger than 5% of the velocity at the center of the pipe indicating the flows are transitional. Based on near wall velocity measurements and well established data for flow at these Reynolds numbers, the wall shear stress was estimated to be 3–4 and 5–6 dynes/cm2 for Reynolds number 2200 and 3000, respectively. In contrast to laminar shear stress, no cell alignment was observed under transitional shear stress at both Reynolds numbers. However, transitional shear stress at the higher Reynolds number caused cell elongation similar to that of laminar shear stress at 3 dynes/cm2. The fluctuating component of the wall shear stress may be responsible for these differences. The transitional flow chamber will facilitate cellular studies to identify the mechanisms through which transitional shear stress alters EC biology, which will assist in the development of vascular therapeutic treatments.
Endothelial cells; Arterio-venous grafts; Transitional flow; Morphology; WSS; Reynolds number
Survival of endothelial cells is critical for cellular processes such as angiogenesis. Cell attachment to extracellular matrix inhibits apoptosis in endothelial cells both in vitro and in vivo, but the molecular mechanisms underlying matrix-induced survival signals or detachment-induced apoptotic signals are unknown. We demonstrate here that matrix attachment is an efficient regulator of Fas-mediated apoptosis in endothelial cells. Thus, matrix attachment protects cells from Fas-induced apoptosis, whereas matrix detachment results in susceptibility to Fas-mediated cell death. Matrix attachment modulates Fas-mediated apoptosis at two different levels: by regulating the expression level of Fas, and by regulating the expression level of c-Flip, an endogenous antagonist of caspase-8. The extracellular signal–regulated kinase (Erk) cascade functions as a survival pathway in adherent cells by regulating c-Flip expression. We further show that detachment-induced cell death, or anoikis, itself results from activation of the Fas pathway by its ligand, Fas-L. Fas-L/Fas interaction, Fas–FADD complex formation, and caspase-8 activation precede the bulk of anoikis in endothelial cells, and inhibition of any of these events blocks anoikis. These studies identify matrix attachment as a survival factor against death receptor–mediated apoptosis and provide a molecular mechanism for anoikis and previously observed Fas resistance in endothelial cells.
apoptosis; endothelium; extracellular matrix; integrin; signaling
The initiation of atherosclerosis is in part dependent on the hemodynamic shear stress environment promoting a pro-inflammatory phenotype of the endothelium. Previous studies demonstrated increased expression of ER stress protein and unfolded protein response (UPR) regulator, GRP78, within all vascular cells in atherosclerotic lesions and its regulation in the endothelium by several atherosclerotic stressors; however regulation of GRP78 by shear stress directly has not been established.
Method and Results
Using an in vitro model to simulate human arterial shear stress waveforms, atheroprone or atheroprotective flow was applied to human endothelial cells. GRP78 was found to be significantly upregulated (3-fold) in a sustained manner under atheroprone, but not atheroprotective flow up to 24-hours. This response was dependent on both sustained activation of p38, as well integrin α2β1. Increased GRP78 correlated with the activation of the ER stress sensing element (ERSE1) promoter by atheroprone flow as a marker of the UPR. Shear stress regulated GRP78 through increased protein stability when compared to other flow regulated proteins, such as connexin-43 and VCAM-1. Increased endothelial expression of GRP78 was also observed in atheroprone versus atheroprotective regions of C57BL6 mice.
This study supports a role of the hemodynamic environment in preferentially inducing GRP78 and the UPR in atheroprone regions, prior to lesion development, and suggests a potential atheroprotective (i.e., pro-survival), compensatory effect in response to ER stress within atherosclerotic lesions.
endothelial; GRP78; shear stress; atherosclerosis; unfolded protein response
Vascular endothelial cells (ECs) play significant roles in regulating circulatory functions. The shear stress resulting from blood flow modulates EC functions by activating mechano-sensors, signaling pathways, and gene and protein expressions. Shear stress with a clear direction resulting form pulsatile or steady flow causes only transient activation of pro-inflammatory and proliferative pathways, which become down-regulated when such directed shearing is sustained. In contrast, shear flow without a definitive direction (e.g., disturbed flow in regions of complex geometry) causes sustained molecular signaling of pro-inflammatory and proliferative pathways. The EC responses to shear flows with a clear direction involve the remodeling of EC structure to maintain vascular homeostasis and are atheroprotective. Such regulatory mechanism does not operate effectively when the flow pattern is disturbed. Therefore, the branch points and other regions of the arterial tree with a complex geometry are prone to atherogenesis, whereas the straight part of the arterial tree is generally spared. Understanding of the EC responses to different flow patters helps to elucidate the mechanism of the region-specific localization of atherosclerosis in the arterial system.
Gene expression; Mechanotransduction; Proliferation; Shear stress; Signal transduction
Atherosclerosis is a vascular disease that involves lesion formation at sites of disturbed flow under the influence of genetic and environmental factors. Endothelial expression of adhesion molecules that enable infiltration of immune cells is important for lesion development. Platelet/Endothelial Cell Adhesion Molecule-1 (PECAM-1; CD31) is an adhesion and signaling receptor expressed by many cells involved in atherosclerotic lesion development. PECAM-1 transduces signals required for pro-inflammatory adhesion molecule expression at atherosusceptible sites; thus, it is predicted to be pro-atherosclerotic. PECAM-1 also inhibits inflammatory responses, on which basis it is predicted to be athero-protective. We evaluated herein the effect of PECAM-1 deficiency on development of atherosclerosis in LDL receptor-deficient mice. We found that PECAM-1 has both pro-atherosclerotic and atheroprotective effects, but that the former dominate in the inner curvature of the aortic arch whereas the latter dominate in the aortic sinus, branching arteries, and descending aorta. Endothelial cell expression of PECAM-1 was sufficient for its atheroprotective effects in the aortic sinus but not in the descending aorta, where PECAM-1’s atheroprotective effects also required its expression on bone marrow-derived cells. We conclude that PECAM-1 influences initiation and progression of atherosclerosis both positively and negatively, and that it does so in a site-specific manner.