β1 integrin has been shown to contribute to vascular smooth muscle cell differentiation, adhesion and mechanosensation in vitro. Here we showed that deletion of β1 integrin at the onset of smooth muscle differentiation resulted in interrupted aortic arch, aneurysms and failure to assemble extracellular matrix proteins. These defects result in lethality prior to birth. Our data indicates that β1 integrin is not required for the acquisition, but it is essential for the maintenance of the smooth muscle cell phenotype, as levels of critical smooth muscle proteins are gradually reduced in mutant mice. Furthermore, while deposition of extracellular matrix was not affected, its structure was disrupted. Interestingly, defects in extracellular matrix and vascular wall assembly, were restricted to the aortic arch and its branches, compromising the brachiocephalic and carotid arteries and to the exclusion of the descending aorta. Additional analysis of β1 integrin in the pharyngeal arch smooth muscle progenitors was performed using wnt1Cre. Neural crest cells deleted for β1 integrin were able to migrate to the pharyngeal arches and associate with endothelial lined arteries; but exhibited vascular remodeling defects and early lethality. This work demonstrates that β1 integrin is dispensable for migration and initiation of the smooth muscle differentiation program, however, it is essential for remodeling of the pharyngeal arch arteries and for the assembly of the vessel wall of their derivatives. It further establishes a critical role of β1 integrin in the protection against aneurysms that is particularly confined to the ascending aorta and its branches.
neural crest cells; aortic arch; vascular development; vascular morphogenesis; vascular smooth muscle
Syndecan-4 is a membrane-bound heparan sulfate proteoglycan that participates in cell–cell and cell–matrix interactions and modulates adhesion and migration of many cell types. Through its extracellular domain, syndecan-4 cooperates with adhesion molecules and binds matrix components relevant for cell migration. Importantly, syndecan-4 is a substrate of extracellular proteases, however the biological significance of this cleavage has not been elucidated. Here, we show that the secreted metalloprotease ADAMTS1, involved in angiogenesis and inflammatory processes, cleaves the ectodomain of syndecan-4. We further showed that this cleavage results in altered distribution of cytoskeleton components, functional loss of adhesion, and gain of migratory capacities. Using syndecan-4 null cells, we observed that ADAMTS1 proteolytic action mimics the outcome of genetic deletion of this proteoglycan with regards to focal adhesion. Our findings suggest that the shedding of syndecan-4 by ADAMTS1 disrupts cell adhesion and promotes cell migration.
Extracellular proteolysis; Proteoglycan; Metalloprotease; Endothelial cell
The critical contribution of the Notch signaling pathway to vascular morphogenesis has been underscored by loss-of-function studies in mouse and zebrafish. Nonetheless, a comprehensive understanding as to how this signaling system influences the formation of blood vessels at the cellular and molecular level is far from reached. Here, we provide a detailed analysis of the distribution of active Notch1 in relation to its DSL (Delta, Serrate, Lag2) ligands, Jagged1, Delta-like1, and Delta-like4, during progressive stages of vascular morphogenesis and maturation. Important differences in the cellular distribution of Notch ligands were found. Jagged1 (Jag1) was detected in “stalk cells” of the leading vasculature and at arterial branch points, a site where Delta-like4 (Dll4) was clearly absent. Dll4 was the only ligand expressed in “tip cells” at the end of the growing vascular sprouts. It was also present in stalk cells, capillaries, arterial endothelium, and in mural cells of mature arteries in a homogenous manner. Delta-like1 (Dll1) was observed in both arteries and veins of the developing network, but was also excluded from mature arterial branch points. These findings support alternative and distinct roles for Notch ligands during the angiogenic process.
arteries; blood vessels; capillaries; delta-like1; delta-like4; endothelial; jagged1; vascular remodeling; vasculature; veins
Purpose of Review
This review offers a concise summary of the most recent experimental advances in vascular development using the mouse as a model organism.
Recent mouse studies have revealed a spread of phenotypic diversity between endothelia of distinct developmental origins and organs. For example, expression of unique transcription factors distinguishes hemogenic from non-hemogenic endothelium within the same vessel. Vasculature of the brain is particularly susceptible to endothelial malformations due to combinatorial germline and somatic mutations; surprisingly these mutations can afflict the endothelium by either cell autonomous or paracrine effects. Mutant mice have been used to understand how multiple signaling pathways integrate and refine cellular responses. In particular, we learned how VEGFR3 regulates Notch signaling and EphrinB2 coordinates VEGFR2 responses. The regulation of Prox1 by miR181 highlighted the contribution of microRNAs in the induction of lymphatic endothelium. Information gained on heterotypic interactions has further clarified the influence of blood vessels on the morphogenesis of parenchyma and contributed to our understanding of organ-specific endothelial differentiation. Finally, mouse models have uncovered endothelial cell polarity as a keystone for successful vascular lumenization.
Our understanding of the process of vascular development has gained significant refinement in the last two years and has clarified the origin of several disorders rooted in development.
Alagille syndrome; cerebral cavernous malformations; hemogenic endothelium; macrophage; pericyte; vascular development; vascular lumen
Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is known to activate proliferation, migration, and survival pathways in endothelial cells through phosphorylation of VEGF receptor-2 (VEGFR-2). VEGF has been incorporated into biomaterials through encapsulation, electrostatic sequestration, and covalent attachment, but the effect of these immobilization strategies on VEGF signaling has not been thoroughly investigated. Further, although growth factor internalization along with the receptor generally occurs in a physiological setting, whether this internalization is needed for receptor phosphorylation is not entirely clear. Here we show that VEGF covalently bound through a modified heparin molecule elicits an extended response of pVEGFR-2 in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) and that the covalent linkage reduces internalization of the growth factor during receptor endocytosis. Optical tweezer measurements show that the rupture force required to disrupt the heparin-VEGF-VEGFR-2 interaction increases from 3–8 pN to 6–12 pN when a covalent bond is introduced between VEGF and heparin. Importantly, by covalently binding VEGF to a heparin substrate, the stability (half-life) of VEGF is extended over three-fold. Here, mathematical models support the biological conclusions, further suggesting that VEGF internalization is significantly reduced when covalently bound, and indicating that VEGF is available for repeated phosphorylation events.
The placenta is a hematopoietic organ that supports hematopoietic stem/progenitor cell (HSPC) generation and expansion without promoting differentiation. We identified PDGF-B signaling in trophoblasts as a key component of the unique placental hematopoietic microenvironment that protects HSPCs from premature differentiation. Loss of PDGF-B or its receptor, PDGFRβ, induced definitive erythropoiesis in placental labyrinth vasculature. This was evidenced by accumulation of CFU-Es and actively proliferating definitive erythroblasts that clustered around central macrophages, highly reminiscent of erythropoiesis in the fetal liver. Ectopic erythropoiesis was not due to a requirement of PDGF-B signaling in hematopoietic cells but rather in placental trophoblasts, which upregulated Epo in the absence of PDGF-B signaling. Furthermore, overexpression of hEPO specifically in the trophoblasts in vivo was sufficient to convert the placenta into an erythropoietic organ. These data provide genetic evidence of a signaling pathway that is required to restrict erythroid differentiation to specific anatomical niches during development.
Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a critical mediator of blood vessel formation during development and in pathological conditions. In this study, we demonstrate that VEGF bioavailability is regulated extracellularly by matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) through intramolecular processing. Specifically, we show that a subset of MMPs can cleave matrix-bound isoforms of VEGF, releasing soluble fragments. We have mapped the region of MMP processing, have generated recombinant forms that mimic MMP-cleaved and MMP-resistant VEGF, and have explored their biological impact in tumors. Although all forms induced similar VEGF receptor 2 phosphorylation levels, the angiogenic outcomes were distinct. MMP-cleaved VEGF promoted the capillary dilation of existent vessels but mediated a marginal neovascular response within the tumor. In contrast, MMP-resistant VEGF supported extensive growth of thin vessels with multiple and frequent branch points. Our findings support the view that matrix-bound VEGF and nontethered VEGF provide different signaling outcomes. These findings reveal a novel aspect in the regulation of extracellular VEGF that holds significance for vascular patterning.
Trabeculation is an integral component of cardiac ventricular morphogenesis and is dependent on the matrix metalloproteinase, ADAMTS1. A substrate of ADAMTS1 is the proteoglycan versican which is expressed in the developing ventricle and which has been implicated in trabeculation. Fibulin-1 is a versican and ADAMTS1-binding extracellular matrix protein required for ventricular morphogenesis. Here we investigated the involvement of fibulin-1 in ADAMTS1-mediated cleavage of versican in vitro, and the involvement of fibulin-1 in versican cleavage in ventricular morphogenesis.
We show that fibulin-1 is a cofactor for ADAMTS1-dependent in vitro cleavage of versican V1, yielding a 70-kDa amino-terminal fragment. Furthermore, fibulin-1-deficiency in mice was found to cause a significant reduction (>90%) in ventricular levels of the 70-kDa versican V1 cleavage product and a 2-fold increase in trabecular cardiomyocyte proliferation. Decreased versican V1 cleavage and augmented trabecular cardiomyocyte proliferation in fibulin-1 null hearts is accompanied by increased ventricular activation of ErbB2 and Erk1/2. By contrast, versican deficiency was found to lead to decreased cardiomyocyte proliferation and reduced ventricular trabeculation.
We conclude that fibulin-1 regulates versican-dependent events in ventricular morphogenesis by promoting ADAMTS1 cleavage of versican leading to suppression of trabecular cardiomyocyte proliferation mediated by the ErbB2-Map kinase pathway.
trabeculation; ventricular noncompaction; versican; fibulin-1; ADAMTS-1; ErbB2; Brg1; Erk1/2; DPEAAE; cardiomyocyte; knockout
The acquisition of a lumen is an essential step in vascular morphogenesis. In this issue of Developmental Cell, Xu et al. (2011) show that the small GTPase Rasip is a critical regulator of cytoskeleton dynamics and cell adhesion, which together drive the emergence of vascular lumens.
Tumors have been recently recognized as aberrant organs composed of a complex mixture of highly interactive cells that in addition to the cancer cell include stroma (fibroblasts, adipocytes, and myofibroblasts), inflammatory (innate and adaptive immune cells), and vascular cells (endothelial and mural cells). While initially cancer cells co-opt tissue-resident vessels, the tumor eventually recruits its own vascular supply. The process of tumor neovascularization proceeds through the combined output of inductive signals from the entire cellular constituency of the tumor. During the last two decades, the identification and mechanistic outcome of signaling pathways that mediate tumor angiogenesis have been elucidated. Interestingly, many of the genes and signaling pathways activated in tumor angiogenesis are identical to those operational during developmental vascular growth, but they lack feedback regulatory control and are highly affected by inflammatory cells and hypoxia. Consequently, tumor vessels are abnormal, fragile, and hyperpermeable. The lack of hierarchy and inconsistent investment of mural cells dampen the ability of the vessels to effectively perfuse the tumor, and the resulting hypoxia installs a vicious cycle that continuously perpetuates a state of vascular inefficiency. Pharmacological targeting of blood vessels, mainly through the VEGF signaling pathway, has proven effective in normalizing tumor vessels. This normalization improves perfusion and distribution of chemotherapeutic drugs with resulting tumor suppression and moderate increase in overall survival. However, resistance to antiangiogenic therapy occurs frequently and constitutes a critical barrier in the inhibition of tumor growth. A concrete understanding of the chief signaling pathways that stimulate vascular growth in tumors and their cross-talk will continue to be essential to further refine and effectively abort the angiogenic response in cancer.
endothelial cells; neovascularization; tumor angiogenesis; Notch; Delta; Jagged; Ephrin; Eph; angiopoietins; Tie; VEGF; VEGFR; Robo; Slit
Maintenance of single layered endothelium, squamous endothelial cell shape, and formation of a patent vascular lumen all require defined endothelial cell polarity. Loss of β1 integrin (Itgb1) in nascent endothelium leads to disruption of arterial endothelial cell polarity and lumen formation. The loss of polarity is manifested as cuboidal shaped endothelial cells, dysregulated levels and mis-localization of normally polarized cell-cell adhesion molecules, as well as decreased expression of the polarity gene Par3 (pard3). β1 integrin and Par3 are both localized to the endothelial layer, with preferential expression of Par3 in arterial endothelium. Luminal occlusion is also exclusively noted in arteries, and is partially rescued by replacement of Par3 protein in β1 deficient vessels. Combined, our findings demonstrate that β1 integrin functions upstream of Par3 as part of a molecular cascade required for endothelial cell polarity and lumen formation.
β1 integrin; Itgb1; endothelium; VE-cadherin; vasculature; lumen formation; polarity; Par3; pard3; Cre; lox
Inflammation and angiogenesis are frequently coupled in pathological situations such as atherosclerosis, diabetes, and arthritis. The inflammatory response increases capillary permeability and induces endothelial activation, which, when persistent, results in capillary sprouting. This inflammation-induced angiogenesis and the subsequent remodelling steps are in large part mediated by extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins and proteases. The focal increase in capillary permeability is an early consequence of inflammation, and results in the deposition of a provisional fibrin matrix. Subsequently, ECM turnover by proteases permits an invasive program by specialized endothelial cells whose phenotype can be regulated by inflammatory stimuli. ECM activity also provides specific mechanical forces, exposes cryptic adhesion sites, and releases biologically active fragments (matrikines) and matrix-sequestered growth factors, all of which are critical for vascular morphogenesis. Further matrix remodelling and vascular regression contribute to the resolution of the inflammatory response and facilitate tissue repair.
Extracellular matrix; Inflammation; Angiogenesis; Proteases; Growth factors
Purpose of review
In this mini-review, we have highlighted the recent breakthroughs in growth factor signaling that have made conceptual changes in our understanding of how blood vessels are formed.
Studies conducted over the past few years have focused on understanding the cell biology of vascular morphogenesis. The major themes include characterization of the different cell types that comprise a vascular sprout, as well as the regulatory influence of cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions on signaling outcomes. In addition, novel trends have emerged, including non-conventional ways in which VEGF contributes to cell survival and metabolic balance.
The growth of new capillary sprouts from a pre-existent vascular network requires a highly coordinated cellular response to both growth factors and morphogens. This response is sensed and triggered by cell surface receptors responsible for the activation of an intracellular cascade that efficiently initiates migration and proliferation programs. While the chief molecular players have been identified, great strides have been made in understanding their specific contributions to endothelial function during the angiogenic process.
angiogenesis; capillaries; endothelial cells; VEGF; vascular system
Metastases to any organ site require angiogenesis for tumor expansion. Tumor angiogenesis is restrained by a variety of endogenous inhibitors including thrombospondin 1 (TSP1). The principal anti-angiogenic activity of TSP1 resides in a domain containing 3 TSP1 repeats (3TSR), and TSP1 cleavage is regulated, in part, by the metalloproteinase ADAMTS1. Here we examine the role of TSP1 and ADAMTS1 in controlling metastatic disease in the liver and lung. The growth of CT26 colon carcinoma cells and RenCa renal carcinoma cells over-expressing TSP1 was inhibited in the liver but not in the lung. B16F10 melanoma liver metastases demonstrated accelerated growth in Tsp1-null mice compared to controls, while B16F10 lung metastases grew similarly in Tsp1-null mice and controls. We compared cleavage of recombinant TSP1 by liver and lung lysates, and found that liver lysate cleaved TSP1 much more efficiently that lung lysate. This cleavage activity could be blocked with neutralizing antibody or RNA interference directed at ADAMTS1, and cleavage activity was significantly abrogated when liver lysates from Adamts1-null mice were used. Finally to confirm that lack of TSP1 cleavage resulted in ineffective anti-angiogenic function in the lung, we generated CT26 expressing colon cancer cells stably secreting only the 3TSR domain. 3TSR secretion from CT26 cells inhibited both CT26 liver and lung metastases. Collectively, these data indicate that the anti-angiogenic activity of TSP1 is differentially regulated by ADAMTS1 in the liver and lung, and emphasize the notion of variations in the regulation of angiogenesis in different host organ environments.
The Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) signaling pathway is essential for the emergence, differentiation and morphogenesis of the cardiovascular system. Moreover, VEGF is required for neoangiogenesis in multiple pathological settings in the adult. However, its participation in the homeostatic control of the vasculature has not been fully explored. Here we showed that in the absence of any pathological insult, autocrine VEGF is required for the homeostasis of blood vessels in the adult. Genetic deletion of VEGF specifically in the endothelial lineage leads to progressive endothelial degeneration, microhemorrhagic events, development of intravascular thrombosis and sudden death in 65% of mutant mice by 25 weeks of age. The phenotype was manifested without detectable changes in the levels of circulating VEGF or in levels of total VEGF mRNA in all of the organs examined, indicating that paracrine VEGF could not compensate for the absence of endothelial VEGF. We further showed that wild-type, but not VEGF null endothelial cells were able to phosphorylate VEGFR2 in the absence of exogenous VEGF. Activation of the receptor in wild-type cells was suppressed by small molecule antagonists, but not by extracellular blockade of VEGF. Together these results revealed a novel, cell-autonomous activation of the VEGF signaling pathway that holds strong significance to vascular homeostasis, but it is dispensable for the angiogenic cascade.
angiogenesis; blood vessels; capillaries; endothelial cells
The contribution of proteases to developmental, physiological and pathological processes has been well accepted. Cleavage of matrix proteins is a key requirement for cell migration and remodeling of the extracellular environment. The constant process of matrix turnover is dependent on the delicate balance between degradation and synthesis. In addition, regulated proteolysis also allows for the release and activation of growth factors and cytokines. Similarly to other extracellular matrix proteins, thrombospondins are also targets of proteolysis. While in some cases enzymatic activity is associated with degradation of the protein; in other situations, targeted and selective cleavage offers the means to release polypeptides with either alternative or enhanced function. Here we provide a summary of the published information related to thrombospondin proteolysis within the context of how proteolysis of extracellular matrix proteins impact diversification of protein function. We also discuss its biological relevance and potential therapeutic value of thrombospondin proteolysis with particular emphasis on angiogenesis.
ADAMTS1; angiogenesis; anti-angiogenesis; matrix metalloproteases; matrix degradation; protein processing; proteolysis
Growth factors are a class of signaling proteins that direct cell fate through interaction with cell surface receptors. Although a myriad of possible cell fates stem from a growth factor binding to its receptor, the signaling cascades that result in one fate over another are still being elucidated. One possible mechanism by which nature modulates growth factor signaling is through the method of presentation of the growth factor – soluble or immobilized (matrix bound). Here we present the methodology to study signaling of soluble versus immobilized VEGF through VEGFR-2. We have designed a strategy to covalently immobilize VEGF using its heparin-binding domain to orient the molecule (bind) and a secondary functional group to mediate covalent binding (lock). This bind-and-lock approach aims to allow VEGF to assume a bioactive orientation before covalent immobilization. Surface plasmon resonance (SPR) demonstrated heparin and VEGF binding with surface densities of 60 ng/cm2 and 100 pg/cm2, respectively. ELISA experiments confirmed VEGF surface density and showed that electrostatically bound VEGF releases in cell medium and heparin solutions while covalently bound VEGF remains immobilized. Electrostatically bound VEGF and covalently bound VEGF phosphorylate VEGFR-2 in both VEGFR-2 transfected cells and VEGFR-2 endogenously producing cells. HUVECs plated on VEGF functionalized surfaces showed different morphologies between surface-bound VEGF and soluble VEGF. The surfaces synthesized in these studies allow for the study of VEGF/VEGFR-2 signaling induced by covalently bound, electrostatically bound, and soluble VEGF and may provide further insight into the design of materials for the generation of a mature and stable vasculature.
Angiogenesis; Cell Signaling; Endothelial Cell; Fibronectin; Growth Factors; Heparin
Matrix-bound VEGF elicits more distinct vascular effects than soluble VEGF, including prolonged VEGFR2 activation with altered patterns of tyrosine activation and downstream enhancement of the p38/MAPK pathway.
VEGF can be secreted in multiple isoforms with variable affinity for extracellular proteins and different abilities to induce vascular morphogenesis, but the molecular mechanisms behind these effects remain unclear. Here, we show molecular distinctions between signaling initiated from soluble versus matrix-bound VEGF, which mediates a sustained level of VEGFR2 internalization and clustering. Exposure of endothelial cells to matrix-bound VEGF elicits prolonged activation of VEGFR2 with differential phosphorylation of Y1214, and extended activation kinetics of p38. These events require association of VEGFR2 with β1 integrins. Matrix-bound VEGF also promotes reciprocal responses on β1 integrin by inducing its association with focal adhesions; a response that is absent upon exposure to soluble VEGF. Inactivation of β1 integrin blocks the prolonged phosphorylation of Y1214 and consequent activation of p38. Combined, these results indicate that when in the context of extracellular matrix, activation of VEGFR2 is distinct from that of soluble VEGF in terms of recruitment of receptor partners, phosphorylation kinetics, and activation of downstream effectors.
Some of the questions that have intrigued developmental biologists studying blood cell formation are: where do blood cells form, what are their precursors, and what signals are required for their emergence. Elegant embryonic grafting experiments in non-mammalian vertebrates, transplantation assays in mouse, and genetic analyses in zebrafish and mouse have been brought to bear on these problems, with enormous success. More recently investigators have applied conditional gene deletion and replacement strategies to refine our knowledge of this process in mammals. Here we describe several studies that have used the Cre/LoxP system to study blood cell formation, and what has been learned as a result.
Cancer stem cells, which share many common properties and regulatory machineries with normal stem cells, have recently been proposed to be responsible for tumorigenesis and to contribute to cancer resistance1. The main challenges in cancer biology are to identify cancer stem cells and to define the molecular events required for transforming normal cells to cancer stem cells. Here we show that Pten deletion in mouse haematopoietic stem cells leads to a myeloproliferative disorder, followed by acute T-lymphoblastic leukaemia (T-ALL). Self-renewable leukaemia stem cells (LSCs) are enriched in the c-KitmidCD3+Lin− compartment, where unphosphorylated β-catenin is significantly increased. Conditional ablation of one allele of the β-catenin gene substantially decreases the incidence and delays the occurrence of T-ALL caused by Pten loss, indicating that activation of the β-catenin pathway may contribute to the formation or expansion of the LSC population. Moreover, a recurring chromosomal translocation, T(14;15), results in aberrant overexpression of the c-myc oncogene in c-KitmidCD3+Lin− LSCs and CD3+ leukaemic blasts, recapitulating a subset of human T-ALL. No alterations in Notch1 signalling are detected in this model, suggesting that Pten inactivation and c-myc overexpression may substitute functionally for Notch1 abnormalities2,3, leading to T-ALL development. Our study indicates that multiple genetic or molecular alterations contribute cooperatively to LSC transformation.
Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) originate within the aorta-gonado-mesonephros (AGM) region of the midgestation embryo, but the cell type responsible for their emergence is unknown since critical hematopoietic factors are expressed in both the AGM endothelium and its underlying mesenchyme. Here we employ a temporally restricted genetic tracing strategy to selectively label the endothelium, and separately its underlying mesenchyme, during AGM development. Lineage tracing endothelium, via an inducible VE-cadherin Cre line, reveals that the endothelium is capable of HSC emergence. The endothelial progeny migrate to the fetal liver, and later to the bone marrow, are capable of expansion, self-renewal, and multi-lineage hematopoietic differentiation. HSC capacity is exclusively endothelial, as ex vivo analyses demonstrate lack of VE-cadherin Cre induction in circulating and fetal liver hematopoietic populations. Moreover, AGM mesenchyme, as selectively traced via a myocardin Cre line, is incapable of hematopoiesis. Our genetic tracing strategy therefore reveals an endothelial origin of HSCs.
Hematopoietic stem cells; HSC; aorta-gonado-mesonephros; AGM; VE-cadherin; Cre-recombinase; hemogenic endothelium; hematopoiesis; lineage tracing; tamoxifen
Developing myocardial cells respond to signals from the endocardial layer to form a network of trabeculae that characterize the ventricles of the vertebrate heart. Abnormal myocardial trabeculation results in specific cardiomyopathies in humans and yet trabecular development is poorly understood. We show that trabeculation requires Brg1, a chromatin remodeling protein, to repress ADAMTS1 expression in the endocardium that overlies the developing trabeculae. Repression of ADAMTS1, a secreted matrix metalloproteinase, allows the establishment of an extracellular environment in the cardiac jelly that supports trabecular growth. Later during embryogenesis, ADAMTS1 expression initiates in the endocardium to degrade the cardiac jelly and prevent excessive trabeculation. Thus, the composition of cardiac jelly essential for myocardial morphogenesis is dynamically controlled by ADAMTS1 and its chromatin-based transcriptional regulation. Modification of the intervening microenvironment provides a mechanism by which chromatin regulation within one tissue layer coordinates the morphogenesis of an adjacent layer.
Brg1; BAF complex; chromatin remodeling; primitive erythropoiesis; yolk sac vasculogenesis; endocardium; heart development; trabeculation; cardiac jelly; ADAMTS1; microenvironments
The proteoglycan versican is essential to the formation of endocardial cushion mesenchyme by epithelial–mesenchymal transformation (EMT). A potentially important factor in the regulation of versican activity during cushion EMT is proteolysis by ADAMTS metalloproteinases. Using antibodies to the DPEAAE neoepitope created by ADAMTS proteolysis of versican, we detected the amino terminal 70-kDa versican cleavage fragment in cardiac cushions. Initially (i.e., 9.5 days post coitum [dpc]), the fragment is associated with endocardial cells undergoing EMT and with newly derived mesenchymal cells. ADAMTS-1 and its cofactor fibulin-1 were also associated with these cells. As cushions become increasingly populated with mesenchymal cells (10.5–12.5 dpc), the fragment remains asymmetrically distributed compared with the pattern of total versican. Highest levels of the fragment are present in regions immediately subjacent to the endocardium characterized as having densely packed, rounded cells, lacking cellular protrusions. With further development (i.e., 12.5–14.5 dpc), the pattern of fragment distribution within cushions broadens to include the ECM surrounding loosely packed mesenchymal cells in the cushion core. Together, the findings reveal that versican proteolysis leading to the production of the 70-kDa fragment is integral to the formation and differentiation of endocardial cushion mesenchyme.
versican; epithelial–mesenchymal transformation; endocardial cushion; valvulogenesis; fibulin-1; MMP-2; ADAMTS-1; ADAMTS-9
GPR4 is a G protein-coupled receptor expressed in the vasculature, lung, kidney, and other tissues. In vitro ectopic overexpression studies implicated GPR4 in sensing extracellular pH changes leading to cyclic AMP (cAMP) production. To investigate its biological roles in vivo, we generated GPR4-deficient mice by homologous recombination. Whereas GPR4-null adult mice appeared phenotypically normal, neonates showed a higher frequency of perinatal mortality. The average litter size from GPR4−/− intercrosses was ∼30% smaller than that from GPR4+/+ intercrosses on N3 and N5 C57BL/6 genetic backgrounds. A fraction of knockout embryos and neonates had spontaneous hemorrhages, dilated and tortuous subcutaneous blood vessels, and defective vascular smooth muscle cell coverage. Mesangial cells in kidney glomeruli were also significantly reduced in GPR4-null neonates. Some neonates exhibited respiratory distress with airway lining cell metaplasia. To examine whether GPR4 is functionally involved in vascular pH sensing, an ex vivo aortic ring assay was used under defined pH conditions. Compared to wild-type aortas, microvessel outgrowth from GPR4-null aortas was less inhibited by acidic extracellular pH. Treatment with an analog of cAMP, a downstream effector of GPR4, abolished microvessel outgrowth bypassing the GPR4-knockout phenotype. These results suggest that GPR4 deficiency leads to partially penetrant vascular abnormalities during development and that this receptor functions in blood vessel pH sensing.
Accumulating evidence suggests that phosphatases play an important role in regulating a variety of signal transduction pathways that have a bearing on cancer. The kinase-associated phosphatase (KAP) is a human dual-specificity protein phosphatase that was identified as a Cdc2- or Cdk2-interacting protein by a yeast two-hybrid screening, yet the biological significance of these interactions remains elusive. We have identified the KAP gene as an overexpressed gene in breast and prostate cancer by using a phosphatase domain-specific differential-display PCR strategy. Here we report that breast and prostate malignancies are associated with high levels of KAP expression. The sublocalization of KAP is variable. In normal cells, KAP is primarily found in the perinuclear region, but in tumor cells, a significant portion of KAP is found in the cytoplasm. Blocking KAP expression by antisense KAP in a tetracycline-regulatable system results in a reduced population of S-phase cells and reduced Cdk2 kinase activity. Furthermore, lowering KAP expression led to inhibition of the transformed phenotype, with reduced anchorage-independent growth and tumorigenic potential in athymic nude mice. These findings suggest that therapeutic intervention might be aimed at repression of KAP gene overexpression in human breast and prostate cancer.