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author:("mammoth, kiko")
1.  GATA2 and Lmo2 control angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis via direct transcriptional regulation of neuropilin-2 
Angiogenesis  2013;16(4):939-952.
GATA-binding protein 2 (GATA2) and LIM domain only 2 (Lmo2) form common transcription complexes during hematopoietic differentiation. Here we show that these two transcription factors also play a key role in endothelial cells (EC) and lymphatic EC (LEC) function. Primary EC and tumor-associated blood vessels expressed GATA2 and Lmo2. VEGF-induced sprouting angiogenesis in both differentiating embryonic stem cells (embryoid bodies) and primary EC increased GATA2 and Lmo2 levels. Conversely, silencing of GATA2 and Lmo2 expression in primary EC inhibited VEGF-induced angiogenic activity, including EC migration and sprouting in vitro, two key steps of angiogenesis in vivo. This inhibition of EC function was associated with downregulated expression of neuropilin-2 (NRP2), a co-receptor for VEGF, at the protein, mRNA and promoter levels. NRP2 overexpression partially rescued the impaired angiogenic sprouting in the GATA2/Lmo2 knockdown EC, confirming that GATA2 and Lmo2 mediated EC function, at least in part, by directly regulating NRP2 gene expression. Furthermore, it was found that primary LEC expressed GATA2 and Lmo2 as well. Silencing of GATA2 and Lmo2 expression in LEC inhibited VEGF-induced LEC sprouting, also in a NRP2-dependent manner. In conclusion, our results demonstrate that GATA2 and Lmo2 cooperatively regulate VEGF-induced angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis via NRP2.
PMCID: PMC3793839  PMID: 23892628
GATA2; Lmo2; Neuropilin-2; Transcriptional Regulation; Angiogenesis; Lymphangiogenesis
2.  RASA1 functions in EPHB4 signaling pathway to suppress endothelial mTORC1 activity 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2014;124(6):2774-2784.
Vascular malformations are linked to mutations in RAS p21 protein activator 1 (RASA1, also known as p120RasGAP); however, due to the global expression of this gene, it is unclear how these mutations specifically affect the vasculature. Here, we tested the hypothesis that RASA1 performs a critical effector function downstream of the endothelial receptor EPHB4. In zebrafish models, we found that either RASA1 or EPHB4 deficiency induced strikingly similar abnormalities in blood vessel formation and function. Expression of WT EPHB4 receptor or engineered receptors with altered RASA1 binding revealed that the ability of EPHB4 to recruit RASA1 is required to restore blood flow in EPHB4-deficient animals. Analysis of EPHB4-deficient zebrafish tissue lysates revealed that mTORC1 is robustly overactivated, and pharmacological inhibition of mTORC1 in these animals rescued both vessel structure and function. Furthermore, overexpression of mTORC1 in endothelial cells exacerbated vascular phenotypes in animals with reduced EPHB4 or RASA1, suggesting a functional EPHB4/RASA1/mTORC1 signaling axis in endothelial cells. Tissue samples from patients with arteriovenous malformations displayed strong endothelial phospho-S6 staining, indicating increased mTORC1 activity. These results indicate that deregulation of EPHB4/RASA1/mTORC1 signaling in endothelial cells promotes vascular malformation and suggest that mTORC1 inhibitors, many of which are approved for the treatment of certain cancers, should be further explored as a potential strategy to treat patients with vascular malformations.
PMCID: PMC4089464  PMID: 24837431
3.  Paxillin controls directional cell motility in response to physical cues 
Cell Adhesion & Migration  2012;6(6):502-508.
Physical cues from the extracellular environment that influence cell shape and directional migration are transduced into changes in cytoskeletal organization and biochemistry through integrin-based cell adhesions to extracellular matrix (ECM). Paxillin is a focal adhesion (FA) scaffold protein that mediates integrin anchorage to the cytoskeleton, and has been implicated in regulation of FA assembly and cell migration. To determine whether paxillin is involved in coupling mechanical distortion with directional movement, cell shape was physically constrained by culturing cells on square-shaped fibronectin-coated adhesive islands surrounded by non-adhesive barrier regions that were created with a microcontact printing technique. Square-shaped cells preferentially formed FAs and extended lamellipodia from their corner regions when stimulated with PDGF, and loss of paxillin resulted in loss of this polarized response. Selective expression of the N- and C-terminal domains of paxillin produced opposite, but complementary, effects on suppressing or promoting lamellipodia formation in different regions of square cells, which corresponded to directional motility defects in vitro. Paxillin loss or mutation was also shown to affect the formation of circular dorsal ruffles, and this corresponded to changes in cell invasive behavior in 3D. This commentary addresses the implications of these findings in terms of how a multifunctional FA scaffold protein can link physical cues to cell adhesion, protrusion and membrane trafficking so as to control directional migration in 2D and 3D. We also discuss how microengineered ECM islands and in vivo model systems can be used to further elucidate the functions of paxillin in directional migration.
PMCID: PMC3547894  PMID: 23076140
paxillin; focal adhesion; lamellipodia; dorsal ruffles; migration; motility; microcontact printing; membrane trafficking; mechanotransduction
4.  Twist1 Controls Lung Vascular Permeability and Endotoxin-Induced Pulmonary Edema by Altering Tie2 Expression  
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e73407.
Tight regulation of vascular permeability is necessary for normal development and deregulated vascular barrier function contributes to the pathogenesis of various diseases, including acute respiratory distress syndrome, cancer and inflammation. The angiopoietin (Ang)-Tie2 pathway is known to control vascular permeability. However, the mechanism by which the expression of Tie2 is regulated to control vascular permeability has not been fully elucidated. Here we show that transcription factor Twist1 modulates pulmonary vascular leakage by altering the expression of Tie2 in a context-dependent way. Twist1 knockdown in cultured human lung microvascular endothelial cells decreases Tie2 expression and phosphorylation and increases RhoA activity, which disrupts cell-cell junctional integrity and increases vascular permeability in vitro. In physiological conditions, where Ang1 is dominant, pulmonary vascular permeability is elevated in the Tie2-specific Twist1 knockout mice. However, depletion of Twist1 and resultant suppression of Tie2 expression prevent increase in vascular permeability in an endotoxin-induced lung injury model, where the balance of Angs shifts toward Ang2. These results suggest that Twist1-Tie2-Angs signaling is important for controlling vascular permeability and modulation of this mechanism may lead to the development of new therapeutic approaches for pulmonary edema and other diseases caused by abnormal vascular permeability.
PMCID: PMC3759405  PMID: 24023872
5.  Wnt signaling mediates pathological vascular growth in proliferative retinopathy 
Circulation  2011;124(17):1871-1881.
Ischemic proliferative retinopathy, characterized by pathologic retinal neovascularization, is a major cause of blindness in working age adults and children. Defining the molecular pathways distinguishing pathological neovascularization from normal vessels is critical to controlling these blinding diseases with targeted therapy. Because mutations in Wnt signaling cause defective retinal vasculature in humans with some characteristics of the pathologic vessels in retinopathy, we investigated the potential role of Wnt signaling in pathologic retinal vascular growth in proliferative retinopathy.
Methods and Results
In this study we show that Wnt receptors (Frizzled4 and Lrp5) and activity are significantly increased in pathologic neovascularization in a mouse model of oxygen-induced proliferative retinopathy. Loss of Wnt co-receptor Lrp5 and downstream signaling molecule disheveled2 significantly decreases the formation of pathologic retinal neovascularization in retinopathy. Loss of Lrp5 also affects retinal angiogenesis during development and formation of the blood retinal barrier, which is linked to significant down-regulation of tight junction protein claudin5 (Cln5) in Lrp5−/− vessels. Blocking Cln5 significantly suppresses Wnt-pathway driven endothelial cell sprouting in vitro and developmental and pathologic vascular growth in retinopathy in vivo.
These results demonstrate an important role of Wnt signaling in pathologic vascular development in retinopathy and show a novel function of Cln5 in promoting angiogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3326389  PMID: 21969016
angiogenesis; vessels; retinopathy; Wnt
6.  Mechanochemical control of mesenchymal condensation and embryonic tooth organ formation 
Developmental cell  2011;21(4):758-769.
Mesenchymal condensation is critical for organogenesis, yet little is known about how this process is controlled. Here we show that Fgf8 and Sema3f produced by early dental epithelium respectively attract and repulse mesenchymal cells, which causes them to pack tightly together during mouse tooth development. Resulting mechanical compaction-induced changes in cell shape induce odontogenic transcription factors (Pax9, Msx1) and chemical cue (BMP4), and mechanical compression of mesenchyme is sufficient to induce tooth-specific cell fate switching. The inductive effects of cell compaction are mediated by suppression of the mechanical signaling molecule RhoA, and its over-expression prevents odontogenic induction. Thus, the mesenchymal condensation that drives tooth formation is induced by antagonistic epithelial morphogens that manifest their pattern-generating actions mechanically via changes in mesenchymal cell shape and altered mechanotransduction.
PMCID: PMC3199351  PMID: 21924961
Mesenchymal condensation; organogenesis; epithelial-mesenchymal interactions; mechanical forces; cell shape; Fgf8; Sema3f; Nrp2; Pax9; RhoA; tooth
7.  LRP5 Regulates Development of Lung Microvessels and Alveoli through the Angiopoietin-Tie2 Pathway 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e41596.
Angiogenesis is crucial for lung development. Although there has been considerable exploration, the mechanism by which lung vascular and alveolar formation is controlled is still not completely understood. Here we show that low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 5 (LRP5), a component of the Wnt ligand-receptor complex, regulates angiogenesis and alveolar formation in the lung by modulating expression of the angiopoietin (Ang) receptor, Tie2, in vascular endothelial cells (ECs). Vascular development in whole mouse lungs and in cultured ECs is controlled by LRP5 signaling, which is, in turn, governed by a balance between the activities of the antagonistic Tie2 ligands, Ang1 and Ang2. Under physiological conditions when Ang1 is dominant, LRP5 knockdown decreases Tie2 expression and thereby, inhibits vascular and alveolar development in the lung. Conversely, when Ang2 dominates under hyperoxia treatment in neonatal mice, high LRP5 and Tie2 expression suppress angiogenesis and lung development. These findings suggest that the LRP5-Tie2-Ang signaling axis plays a central role in control of both angiogenesis and alveolarization during postnatal lung development, and that deregulation of this signaling mechanism might lead to developmental abnormalities of the lung, such as are observed in bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD).
PMCID: PMC3404972  PMID: 22848540
8.  Epoxyeicosanoids stimulate multiorgan metastasis and tumor dormancy escape in mice 
Epoxyeicosatrienoic acids (EETs) are small molecules produced by cytochrome P450 epoxygenases. They are lipid mediators that act as autocrine or paracrine factors to regulate inflammation and vascular tone. As a result, drugs that raise EET levels are in clinical trials for the treatment of hypertension and many other diseases. However, despite their pleiotropic effects on cells, little is known about the role of these epoxyeicosanoids in cancer. Here, using genetic and pharmacological manipulation of endogenous EET levels, we demonstrate that EETs are critical for primary tumor growth and metastasis in a variety of mouse models of cancer. Remarkably, we found that EETs stimulated extensive multiorgan metastasis and escape from tumor dormancy in several tumor models. This systemic metastasis was not caused by excessive primary tumor growth but depended on endothelium-derived EETs at the site of metastasis. Administration of synthetic EETs recapitulated these results, while EET antagonists suppressed tumor growth and metastasis, demonstrating in vivo that pharmacological modulation of EETs can affect cancer growth. Furthermore, inhibitors of soluble epoxide hydrolase (sEH), the enzyme that metabolizes EETs, elevated endogenous EET levels and promoted primary tumor growth and metastasis. Thus, our data indicate a central role for EETs in tumorigenesis, offering a mechanistic link between lipid signaling and cancer and emphasizing the critical importance of considering possible effects of EET-modulating drugs on cancer.
PMCID: PMC3248288  PMID: 22182838
9.  Paxillin Mediates Sensing of Physical Cues and Regulates Directional Cell Motility by Controlling Lamellipodia Positioning 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(12):e28303.
Physical interactions between cells and the extracellular matrix (ECM) guide directional migration by spatially controlling where cells form focal adhesions (FAs), which in turn regulate the extension of motile processes. Here we show that physical control of directional migration requires the FA scaffold protein paxillin. Using single-cell sized ECM islands to constrain cell shape, we found that fibroblasts cultured on square islands preferentially activated Rac and extended lamellipodia from corner, rather than side regions after 30 min stimulation with PDGF, but that cells lacking paxillin failed to restrict Rac activity to corners and formed small lamellipodia along their entire peripheries. This spatial preference was preceded by non-spatially constrained formation of both dorsal and lateral membrane ruffles from 5–10 min. Expression of paxillin N-terminal (paxN) or C-terminal (paxC) truncation mutants produced opposite, but complementary, effects on lamellipodia formation. Surprisingly, pax−/− and paxN cells also formed more circular dorsal ruffles (CDRs) than pax+ cells, while paxC cells formed fewer CDRs and extended larger lamellipodia even in the absence of PDGF. In a two-dimensional (2D) wound assay, pax−/− cells migrated at similar speeds to controls but lost directional persistence. Directional motility was rescued by expressing full-length paxillin or the N-terminus alone, but paxN cells migrated more slowly. In contrast, pax−/− and paxN cells exhibited increased migration in a three-dimensional (3D) invasion assay, with paxN cells invading Matrigel even in the absence of PDGF. These studies indicate that paxillin integrates physical and chemical motility signals by spatially constraining where cells will form motile processes, and thereby regulates directional migration both in 2D and 3D. These findings also suggest that CDRs may correspond to invasive protrusions that drive cell migration through 3D extracellular matrices.
PMCID: PMC3237434  PMID: 22194823
10.  Ultra-rapid activation of TRPV4 ion channels by mechanical forces applied to cell surface β1 integrins 
Integrins are ubiquitous transmembrane mechanoreceptors that elicit changes in intracellular biochemistry in response to mechanical force application, but these alterations generally proceed over seconds to minutes. Stress-sensitive ion channels represent another class of mechanoreceptors that are activated much more rapidly (within msec), and recent findings suggest that calcium influx through Transient Receptor Potential Vanilloid-4 (TRPV4) channels expressed in the plasma membrane of bovine capillary endothelial cells is required for mechanical strain-induced changes in focal adhesion assembly, cell orientation and directional migration. However, whether mechanically stretching a cell’s extracellular matrix (ECM) adhesions might directly activate cell surface ion channels remains unknown. Here we show that forces applied to β1 integrins result in ultra-rapid (within 4 msec) activation of calcium influx through TRPV4 channels. The TRPV4 channels were specifically activated by mechanical strain in the cytoskeletal backbone of the focal adhesion, and not by deformation of the lipid bilayer or submembranous cortical cytoskeleton alone. This early-immediate calcium signaling response required the distal region of the β1 integrin cytoplasmic tail that contains a binding site for the integrin-associated transmembrane CD98 protein, and external force application to CD98 within focal adhesions activated the same ultra-rapid calcium signaling response. Local direct strain-dependent activation of TRPV4 channels mediated by force transfer from integrins and CD98 may therefore enable compartmentalization of calcium signaling within focal adhesions that is critical for mechanical control of many cell behaviors that underlie cell and tissue development.
PMCID: PMC3147167  PMID: 20725677
11.  Multizone Paper Platform for 3D Cell Cultures 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(5):e18940.
In vitro 3D culture is an important model for tissues in vivo. Cells in different locations of 3D tissues are physiologically different, because they are exposed to different concentrations of oxygen, nutrients, and signaling molecules, and to other environmental factors (temperature, mechanical stress, etc). The majority of high-throughput assays based on 3D cultures, however, can only detect the average behavior of cells in the whole 3D construct. Isolation of cells from specific regions of 3D cultures is possible, but relies on low-throughput techniques such as tissue sectioning and micromanipulation. Based on a procedure reported previously (“cells-in-gels-in-paper” or CiGiP), this paper describes a simple method for culture of arrays of thin planar sections of tissues, either alone or stacked to create more complex 3D tissue structures. This procedure starts with sheets of paper patterned with hydrophobic regions that form 96 hydrophilic zones. Serial spotting of cells suspended in extracellular matrix (ECM) gel onto the patterned paper creates an array of 200 micron-thick slabs of ECM gel (supported mechanically by cellulose fibers) containing cells. Stacking the sheets with zones aligned on top of one another assembles 96 3D multilayer constructs. De-stacking the layers of the 3D culture, by peeling apart the sheets of paper, “sections” all 96 cultures at once. It is, thus, simple to isolate 200-micron-thick cell-containing slabs from each 3D culture in the 96-zone array. Because the 3D cultures are assembled from multiple layers, the number of cells plated initially in each layer determines the spatial distribution of cells in the stacked 3D cultures. This capability made it possible to compare the growth of 3D tumor models of different spatial composition, and to examine the migration of cells in these structures.
PMCID: PMC3089608  PMID: 21573103
12.  Filamin A regulates focal adhesion disassembly and suppresses breast cancer cell migration and invasion 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2010;207(11):2421-2437.
The actin cross-linking protein filamin A reduces migration, invasion, and metastasis of breast cancer cells.
The actin cross-linking protein filamin A (FLNa) functions as a scaffolding protein and couples cell cytoskeleton to extracellular matrix and integrin receptor signaling. In this study, we report that FLNa suppresses invasion of breast cancer cells and regulates focal adhesion (FA) turnover. Two large progression tissue microarrays from breast cancer patients revealed a significant decrease of FLNa levels in tissues from invasive breast cancer compared with benign disease and in lymph node–positive compared with lymph node–negative breast cancer. In breast cancer cells and orthotopic mouse breast cancer models, down-regulation of FLNa stimulated cancer cell migration, invasion, and metastasis formation. Time-lapse microscopy and biochemical assays after FLNa silencing and rescue with wild-type or mutant protein resistant to calpain cleavage revealed that FLNa regulates FA disassembly at the leading edge of motile cells. Moreover, FLNa down-regulation enhanced calpain activity through the mitogen-activated protein kinase–extracellular signal-regulated kinase cascade and stimulated the cleavage of FA proteins. These results document a regulation of FA dynamics by FLNa in breast cancer cells.
PMCID: PMC2964581  PMID: 20937704
13.  TRPV4 channels mediate cyclic strain-induced endothelial cell reorientation through integrin to integrin signaling 
Circulation research  2009;104(9):1123-1130.
Cyclic mechanical strain produced by pulsatile blood flow regulates the orientation of endothelial cells lining blood vessels, and influences critical processes such as angiogenesis. Mechanical stimulation of stretch-activated calcium channels is known to mediate this reorientation response, however, the molecular basis remains unknown. Here we show that cyclically stretching capillary endothelial cells adherent to flexible extracellular matrix substrates activates mechanosensitive TRPV4 ion channels that, in turn, stimulate phosphatidyl inositol-3-kinase-dependent activation and binding of additional ·1 integrin receptors, which promotes cytoskeletal remodeling and cell reorientation. Inhibition of integrin activation using blocking antibodies and knockdown of TRPV4 channels using specific siRNA suppress strain-induced capillary cell reorientation. Thus, mechanical forces that physically deform extracellular matrix may guide capillary cell reorientation through a strain-dependent ‘integrin to integrin’ signaling mechanism mediated by force-induced activation of mechanically-gated TRPV4 ion channels on the cell surface.
PMCID: PMC2754067  PMID: 19359599
mechanical strain; integrin; TRPV4; endothelial cell; reorientation; cytoskeleton
14.  A mechanosensitive transcriptional mechanism that controls angiogenesis 
Nature  2009;457(7233):1103-1108.
Angiogenesis is controlled by physical interactions between cells and extracellular matrix as well as soluble angiogenic factors, such as VEGF. However, the mechanism by which mechanical signals integrate with other microenvironmental cues to regulate neovascularization remains unknown. Here we show that the Rho inhibitor, p190RhoGAP, controls capillary network formation in vitro and retinal angiogenesis in vivo by modulating the balance of activities between two antagonistic transcription factors – TFII-I and GATA2 – that govern gene expression of the VEGF receptor, VEGFR2. Moreover, this novel angiogenesis signaling pathway is sensitive to extracellular matrix elasticity as well as soluble VEGF. This is the first known functional cross-antagonism between transcription factors that controls tissue morphogenesis, and that responds to both mechanical and chemical cues.
PMCID: PMC2708674  PMID: 19242469
VEGFR2; p190RhoGAP; TFII-I; GATA2; mechanotransduction; angiogenesis; capillary endothelial cell
15.  Proteolytic release of the carboxy-terminal fragment of proHB-EGF causes nuclear export of PLZF 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2003;163(3):489-502.
Cleavage of membrane-anchored heparin-binding EGF-like growth factor (proHB-EGF) via metalloprotease activation yields amino- and carboxy-terminal regions (HB-EGF and HB-EGF-C, respectively), with HB-EGF widely recognized as a key element of epidermal growth factor receptor transactivation in G protein–coupled receptor signaling. Here, we show a biological role of HB-EGF-C in cells. Subsequent to proteolytic cleavage of proHB-EGF, HB-EGF-C translocated from the plasma membrane into the nucleus. This translocation triggered nuclear export of the transcriptional repressor, promyelocytic leukemia zinc finger (PLZF), which we identify as an HB-EGF-C binding protein. Suppression of cyclin A and delayed entry of S-phase in cells expressing PLZF were reversed by the production of HB-EGF-C. These results indicate that released HB-EGF-C functions as an intracellular signal and coordinates cell cycle progression with HB-EGF.
PMCID: PMC2173632  PMID: 14597771
HB-EGF; ADAM12; shedding; PLZF; transcriptional repression
16.  Distinct Actions and Cooperative Roles of ROCK and mDia in Rho Small G Protein-induced Reorganization of the Actin Cytoskeleton in Madin–Darby Canine Kidney Cells 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  1999;10(8):2481-2491.
Rho, a member of the Rho small G protein family, regulates the formation of stress fibers and focal adhesions in various types of cultured cells. We investigated here the actions of ROCK and mDia, both of which have been identified to be putative downstream target molecules of Rho, in Madin–Darby canine kidney cells. The dominant active mutant of RhoA induced the formation of parallel stress fibers and focal adhesions, whereas the dominant active mutant of ROCK induced the formation of stellate stress fibers and focal adhesions, and the dominant active mutant of mDia induced the weak formation of parallel stress fibers without affecting the formation of focal adhesions. In the presence of C3 ADP-ribosyltransferase for Rho, the dominant active mutant of ROCK induced the formation of stellate stress fibers and focal adhesions, whereas the dominant active mutant of mDia induced only the diffuse localization of actin filaments. These results indicate that ROCK and mDia show distinct actions in reorganization of the actin cytoskeleton. The dominant negative mutant of either ROCK or mDia inhibited the formation of stress fibers and focal adhesions, indicating that both ROCK and mDia are necessary for the formation of stress fibers and focal adhesions. Moreover, inactivation and reactivation of both ROCK and mDia were necessary for the 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate–induced disassembly and reassembly, respectively, of stress fibers and focal adhesions. The morphologies of stress fibers and focal adhesions in the cells expressing both the dominant active mutants of ROCK and mDia were not identical to those induced by the dominant active mutant of Rho. These results indicate that at least ROCK and mDia cooperatively act as downstream target molecules of Rho in the Rho-induced reorganization of the actin cytoskeleton.
PMCID: PMC25478  PMID: 10436006

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