Though the vascular endothelial growth factor coreceptor neuropilin-1 (Nrp1) plays a critical role in vascular development, its precise function is not fully understood. We identified a group of novel binding partners of the cytoplasmic domain of Nrp1 that includes the focal adhesion regulator, Filamin A (FlnA). Endothelial cells (ECs) expressing a Nrp1 mutant devoid of the cytoplasmic domain (nrp1(cyto)(?/?)) migrated significantly slower in response to VEGF relative to the cells expressing wild-type Nrp1 (nrp1(+/+) cells). The rate of FA turnover in VEGF-treated nrp1(cyto)(?/?) ECs was an order of magnitude lower in comparison to nrp1(+/+) ECs, thus accounting for the slower migration rate of the nrp1(cyto)(?/?) ECs.
The change in the overall shape of developing organs is a consequence of the cumulative movement, reshaping, and proliferation of the individual mural cells that make up the walls of these organs. Recent observations suggest that the shape and the position of endothelial cells (ECs) in growing blood vessels are highly dynamic, implying that these cells remodel their junctions extensively and do not preserve their initial relative positions. In order to determine the mechanisms that confer the dynamic behavior of mural ECs, we tracked the trafficking of a cell junction protein complex that consists of the RhoA-specific guanine exchange factor (GEF) Syx, the scaffold protein Mupp1, and the phospholipid binding protein Amot.1 We found that RhoA co-trafficked with this complex on the same endocytic vesicles, and that its cellular activity pattern was determined by Rab13-dependent trafficking. The vesicles were targeted by a Rab13-associated protein complex to Tyr(1175)-phosphorylated VEGFR2 at the leading edge of ECs migrating under a VEGF gradient. These results indicate that the dynamic behavior of ECs in sprouting vessels is conferred by using the same protein complex for the regulation of both cell junctions and cell motility. Together with previous studies that demonstrated regulation of Rac signaling by Rab5-dependent trafficking,(2) it appears now that membrane traffic is tightly coupled to the regulation of Rho GTPases, and, consequently, to the regulation of the actin cytoskeleton, cell junctions, and cell migration.
Angiogenesis requires concomitant remodeling of cell junctions and migration, as exemplified by recent observations of extensive endothelial cell movement along growing blood vessels. We report that a protein complex that regulates cell junctions is required for VEGF-driven directional migration and for angiogenesis in vivo. The complex consists of RhoA and Syx, a RhoA guanine exchange factor cross-linked by the Crumbs polarity protein Mupp1 to angiomotin, a phosphatidylinositol-binding protein. The Syx-associated complex translocates to the leading edge of migrating cells by membrane trafficking that requires the tight junction recycling GTPase Rab13. In turn, Rab13 associates with Grb2, targeting Syx and RhoA to Tyr(1175)-phosphorylated VEGFR2 at the leading edge. Rab13 knockdown in zebrafish impeded sprouting of intersegmental vessels and diminished the directionality of their tip cells. These results indicate that endothelial cell mobility in sprouting vessels is facilitated by shuttling the same protein complex from disassembling junctions to the leading edges of cells.
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.
Controlled regulation of Rho GTPase activity is an essential component mediating growth factor-stimulated migration. We have previously shown that angiomotin (Amot), a membrane-associated scaffold protein, plays a critical role during vascular patterning and endothelial migration during embryogenesis. However, the signaling pathways by which Amot controls directional migration are not known. Here we have used peptide pull-down and yeast 2-hybrid (Y2H) screening to identify proteins that interact with the C-terminal PDZ-binding motifs of Amot and its related proteins AmotL1 and 2. We report that Amot and its related proteins bind to the RhoA GTPase exchange factor (RhoGEF) protein Syx. We show that Amot forms a ternary complex together with Patj (or its paralogue Mupp1) and Syx. Using FRET analysis, we provide evidence that Amot controls targeting of RhoA activity to lamellipodia in vitro. We also report that, similar to Amot, morpholino knockdown of Syx in zebrafish results in inhibition of migration of intersegmental arteries. Taken together, our results indicate that the directional migration of capillaries in the embryo is governed by the Amot:Patj/Mupp1:Syx signaling that controls local GTPase activity.
Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and Ang1 (Angiopoietin-1) have opposing effects on vascular permeability, but the molecular basis of these effects is not fully known. We report in this paper that VEGF and Ang1 regulate endothelial cell (EC) junctions by determining the localization of the RhoA-specific guanine nucleotide exchange factor Syx. Syx was recruited to junctions by members of the Crumbs polarity complex and promoted junction integrity by activating Diaphanous. VEGF caused translocation of Syx from cell junctions, promoting junction disassembly, whereas Ang1 maintained Syx at the junctions, inducing junction stabilization. The VEGF-induced translocation of Syx from EC junctions was caused by PKD1 (protein kinase D1)-mediated phosphorylation of Syx at Ser(806), which reduced Syx association to its junctional anchors. In support of the pivotal role of Syx in regulating EC junctions, syx(-/-) mice had defective junctions, resulting in vascular leakiness, edema, and impaired heart function.
Angiogenesis, the formation of new blood vessels, is fundamental to development and post-injury tissue repair. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-A guides and enhances endothelial cell migration to initiate angiogenesis. Profilin-1 (Pfn-1) is an actin-binding protein that enhances actin filament formation and cell migration, but stimulus-dependent regulation of Pfn-1 has not been observed. Here, we show that VEGF-A-inducible phosphorylation of Pfn-1 at Tyr 129 is critical for endothelial cell migration and angiogenesis. Chemotactic activation of VEGF receptor kinase-2 (VEGFR2) and Src induces Pfn-1 phosphorylation in the cell leading edge, promoting Pfn-1 binding to actin and actin polymerization. Conditional endothelial knock-in of phosphorylation-deficient Pfn1(Y129F) in mice reveals that Pfn-1 phosphorylation is critical for angiogenesis in response to wounding and ischaemic injury, but not for developmental angiogenesis. Thus, VEGFR2/Src-mediated phosphorylation of Pfn-1 bypasses canonical, multistep intracellular signalling events to initiate endothelial cell migration and angiogenesis, and might serve as a selective therapeutic target for anti-angiogenic therapy.
Recent findings have drawn attention to the role of membrane traffic in the signaling of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). The significance of this development stems from the pivotal function of VEGF in vasculogenesis and angiogenesis. The outline of the regulation of VEGF receptor (VEGFR) signaling by membrane traffic is similar to that of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), a prototype of the intertwining between membrane traffic and signaling. There are, however, unique features in VEGFR signaling that are conferred in part by the involvement of the co-receptor neuropilin (Nrp). Nrp1 and VEGFR2 are integrated into membrane traffic through the adaptor protein synectin, which recruits myosin VI, a molecular motor that drives inward trafficking [17,21,64]. The recent detection of only mild vascular defects in a knockin mouse model that expresses Nrp1 lacking a cytoplasmic domain , questions the co-receptors role in VEGF signaling and membrane traffic. The regulation of endocytosis by ephrin-B2 is another feature unique to VEGR2/3 [18,19], but it awaits a mechanistic explanation. Current models do not fully explain how membrane traffic bridges between VEGFR and the downstream effectors that produce its functional outcome, such as cell migration. VEGF-A appears to accomplish this task in part by recruiting endocytic vesicles carrying RhoA to internalized active VEGFR2 .
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