Human vascular malformations cause disease as a result of changes in blood flow and vascular hemodynamic forces. Although the genetic mutations that underlie the formation of many human vascular malformations are known, the extent to which abnormal blood flow can subsequently influence the vascular genetic program and natural history is not. Loss of the SH2 domain–containing leukocyte protein of 76 kDa (SLP76) resulted in a vascular malformation that directed blood flow through mesenteric lymphatic vessels after birth in mice. Mesenteric vessels in the position of the congenital lymphatic in mature Slp76-null mice lacked lymphatic identity and expressed a marker of blood vessel identity. Genetic lineage tracing demonstrated that this change in vessel identity was the result of lymphatic endothelial cell reprogramming rather than replacement by blood endothelial cells. Exposure of lymphatic vessels to blood in the absence of significant flow did not alter vessel identity in vivo, but lymphatic endothelial cells exposed to similar levels of shear stress ex vivo rapidly lost expression of PROX1, a lymphatic fate–specifying transcription factor. These findings reveal that blood flow can convert lymphatic vessels to blood vessels, demonstrating that hemodynamic forces may reprogram endothelial and vessel identity in cardiovascular diseases associated with abnormal flow.
Chiu-Yu Chen, Cara Bertozzi, Zhiying Zou, Lijun Yuan, John S. Lee, MinMin Lu, Stan J. Stachelek, Sathish Srinivasan, Lili Guo, Andres Vincente, Patricia Mericko, Robert J. Levy, Taija Makinen, Guillermo Oliver, Mark L. Kahn
Angiopoietin-2 (ANG-2) is a key regulator of angiogenesis that exerts context-dependent effects on ECs. ANG-2 binds the endothelial-specific receptor tyrosine kinase 2 (TIE2) and acts as a negative regulator of ANG-1/TIE2 signaling during angiogenesis, thereby controlling the responsiveness of ECs to exogenous cytokines. Recent data from tumors indicate that under certain conditions ANG-2 can also promote angiogenesis. However, the molecular mechanisms of dual ANG-2 functions are poorly understood. Here, we identify a model for the opposing roles of ANG-2 in angiogenesis. We found that angiogenesis-activated endothelium harbored a subpopulation of TIE2-negative ECs (TIE2lo). TIE2 expression was downregulated in angiogenic ECs, which abundantly expressed several integrins. ANG-2 bound to these integrins in TIE2lo ECs, subsequently inducing, in a TIE2-independent manner, phosphorylation of the integrin adaptor protein FAK, resulting in RAC1 activation, migration, and sprouting angiogenesis. Correspondingly, in vivo ANG-2 blockade interfered with integrin signaling and inhibited FAK phosphorylation and sprouting angiogenesis of TIE2lo ECs. These data establish a contextual model whereby differential TIE2 and integrin expression, binding, and activation control the role of ANG-2 in angiogenesis. The results of this study have immediate translational implications for the therapeutic exploitation of angiopoietin signaling.
Moritz Felcht, Robert Luck, Alexander Schering, Philipp Seidel, Kshitij Srivastava, Junhao Hu, Arne Bartol, Yvonne Kienast, Christiane Vettel, Elias K. Loos, Simone Kutschera, Susanne Bartels, Sila Appak, Eva Besemfelder, Dorothee Terhardt, Emmanouil Chavakis, Thomas Wieland, Christian Klein, Markus Thomas, Akiyoshi Uemura, Sergij Goerdt, Hellmut G. Augustin
Nitric oxide (NO) plays an essential role in regulating hypertension and blood flow by inducing relaxation of vascular smooth muscle. Male mice deficient in a NO receptor component, the α1 subunit of soluble guanylate cyclase (sGCα1), are prone to hypertension in some, but not all, mouse strains, suggesting that additional genetic factors contribute to the onset of hypertension. Using linkage analyses, we discovered a quantitative trait locus (QTL) on chromosome 1 that was linked to mean arterial pressure (MAP) in the context of sGCα1 deficiency. This region is syntenic with previously identified blood pressure–related QTLs in the human and rat genome and contains the genes coding for renin. Hypertension was associated with increased activity of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS). Further, we found that RAAS inhibition normalized MAP and improved endothelium-dependent vasorelaxation in sGCα1-deficient mice. These data identify the RAAS as a blood pressure–modifying mechanism in a setting of impaired NO/cGMP signaling.
Emmanuel S. Buys, Michael J. Raher, Andrew Kirby, Shahid Mohd, David M. Baron, Sarah R. Hayton, Laurel T. Tainsh, Patrick Y. Sips, Kristen M. Rauwerdink, Qingshang Yan, Robert E.T. Tainsh, Hannah R. Shakartzi, Christine Stevens, Kelly Decaluwé, Maria da Gloria Rodrigues-Machado, Rajeev Malhotra, Johan Van de Voorde, Tong Wang, Peter Brouckaert, Mark J. Daly, Kenneth D. Bloch
Aldosterone, which plays a central role in the regulation of blood pressure, is produced by zona glomerulosa (ZG) cells of the adrenal gland. When dysregulated, aldosterone is pathogenic and contributes to the development and progression of cardiovascular and renal disease. Although sustained production of aldosterone requires persistent Ca2+ entry through low-voltage activated Ca2+ channels, isolated ZG cells are considered nonexcitable, with recorded membrane voltages that are too hyperpolarized to permit Ca2+ entry. Here, we show that mouse ZG cells within adrenal slices spontaneously generate membrane potential oscillations of low periodicity. This innate electrical excitability of ZG cells provides a platform for the production of a recurrent Ca2+ signal that can be controlled by Ang II and extracellular potassium, the 2 major regulators of aldosterone production. We conclude that native ZG cells are electrical oscillators, and that this behavior provides what we believe to be a new molecular explanation for the control of Ca2+ entry in these steroidogenic cells.
Changlong Hu, Craig G. Rusin, Zhiyong Tan, Nick A. Guagliardo, Paula Q. Barrett
Localized tissue hypoxia is a consequence of vascular compromise or rapid cellular proliferation and is a potent inducer of compensatory angiogenesis. The oxygen-responsive transcriptional regulator hypoxia-inducible factor 2α (HIF-2α) is highly expressed in vascular ECs and, along with HIF-1α, activates expression of target genes whose products modulate vascular functions and angiogenesis. However, the mechanisms by which HIF-2α regulates EC function and tissue perfusion under physiological and pathological conditions are poorly understood. Using mice in which Hif2a was specifically deleted in ECs, we demonstrate here that HIF-2α expression is required for angiogenic responses during hindlimb ischemia and for the growth of autochthonous skin tumors. EC-specific Hif2a deletion resulted in increased vessel formation in both models; however, these vessels failed to undergo proper arteriogenesis, resulting in poor perfusion. Analysis of cultured HIF-2α–deficient ECs revealed cell-autonomous increases in migration, invasion, and morphogenetic activity, which correlated with HIF-2α–dependent expression of specific angiogenic factors, including delta-like ligand 4 (Dll4), a Notch ligand, and angiopoietin 2. By stimulating Dll4 signaling in cultured ECs or restoring Dll4 expression in ischemic muscle tissue, we rescued most of the HIF-2α–dependent EC phenotypes in vitro and in vivo, emphasizing the critical role of Dll4/Notch signaling as a downstream target of HIF-2α in ECs. These results indicate that HIF-1α and HIF-2α fulfill complementary, but largely nonoverlapping, essential functions in pathophysiological angiogenesis.
Nicolas Skuli, Amar J. Majmundar, Bryan L. Krock, Rickson C. Mesquita, Lijoy K. Mathew, Zachary L. Quinn, Anja Runge, Liping Liu, Meeri N. Kim, Jiaming Liang, Steven Schenkel, Arjun G. Yodh, Brian Keith, M. Celeste Simon
Arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) in organs, such as the lungs, intestine, and brain, are characteristic of hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT), a disease caused by mutations in activin-like kinase receptor 1 (ALK1), which is an essential receptor in angiogenesis, or endoglin. Matrix Gla protein (MGP) is an antagonist of BMPs that is highly expressed in lungs and kidneys and is regulated by ALK1. The objective of this study was to determine the role of MGP in the vasculature of the lungs and kidneys. We found that Mgp gene deletion in mice caused striking AVMs in lungs and kidneys, where overall small organ size contrasted with greatly increased vascularization. Mechanistically, MGP deficiency increased BMP activity in lungs. In cultured lung epithelial cells, BMP-4 induced VEGF expression through induction of ALK1, ALK2, and ALK5. The VEGF secretion induced by BMP-4 in Mgp–/– epithelial cells stimulated proliferation of ECs. However, BMP-4 inhibited proliferation of lung epithelial cells, consistent with the increase in pulmonary vasculature at the expense of lung tissue in the Mgp-null mice. Similarly, BMP signaling and VEGF expression were increased in Mgp–/– mouse kidneys. We therefore conclude that Mgp gene deletion is what we believe to be a previously unidentified cause of AVMs. Because lack of MGP also causes arterial calcification, our findings demonstrate that the same gene defect has drastically different effects on distinct vascular beds.
Yucheng Yao, Medet Jumabay, Anthony Wang, Kristina I. Boström
Chronic venous disease and venous hypertension are common consequences of valve insufficiency, yet the molecular mechanisms regulating the formation and maintenance of venous valves have not been studied. Here, we provide what we believe to be the first description of venous valve morphogenesis and identify signaling pathways required for the process. The initial stages of valve development were found to involve induction of ephrin-B2, a key marker of arterial identity, by venous endothelial cells. Intriguingly, developing and mature venous valves also expressed a repertoire of proteins, including prospero-related homeobox 1 (Prox1), Vegfr3, and integrin-α9, previously characterized as specific and critical regulators of lymphangiogenesis. Using global and venous valve–selective knockout mice, we further demonstrate the requirement of ephrin-B2 and integrin-α9 signaling for the development and maintenance of venous valves. Our findings therefore identified molecular regulators of venous valve development and maintenance and highlighted the involvement of common morphogenetic processes and signaling pathways in controlling valve formation in veins and lymphatic vessels. Unexpectedly, we found that venous valve endothelial cells closely resemble lymphatic (valve) endothelia at the molecular level, suggesting plasticity in the ability of a terminally differentiated endothelial cell to take on a different phenotypic identity.
Eleni Bazigou, Oliver T.A. Lyons, Alberto Smith, Graham E. Venn, Celia Cope, Nigel A. Brown, Taija Makinen
Numerous studies have suggested a link between the angiogenic FGF and VEGF signaling pathways; however, the nature of this link has not been established. To evaluate this relationship, we investigated VEGF signaling in ECs with disrupted FGF signaling in vitro and in vivo. ECs lacking FGF signaling became unresponsive to VEGF, caused by downregulation of VEGF receptor 2 (VEGFR2) expression after reduced Vegfr2 enhancer activation. FGF mediated VEGFR2 expression via activation of Erk1/2. Transcriptional analysis revealed that Ets transcription factors controlled VEGFR2 expression in an FGF- and Erk1/2-dependent manner. Mice with defective FGF signaling exhibited loss of vascular integrity and reduced vascular morphogenesis. Thus, basal FGF stimulation of the endothelium is required for maintenance of VEGFR2 expression and the ability to respond to VEGF stimulation and accounts for the hierarchic control of vascular formation by FGFs and VEGF.
Masahiro Murakami, Loc T. Nguyen, Kunihiko Hatanaka, William Schachterle, Pei-Yu Chen, Zhen W. Zhuang, Brian L. Black, Michael Simons
Experimental models of atherosclerosis suggest that recruitment of monocytes into plaques drives the progression of this chronic inflammatory condition. Cholesterol-lowering therapy leads to plaque stabilization or regression in human atherosclerosis, characterized by reduced macrophage content, but the mechanisms that underlie this reduction are incompletely understood. Mice lacking the gene Apoe (Apoe–/– mice) have high levels of cholesterol and spontaneously develop atherosclerotic lesions. Here, we treated Apoe–/– mice with apoE-encoding adenoviral vectors that induce plaque regression, and investigated whether macrophage removal from plaques during this regression resulted from quantitative alterations in the ability of monocytes to either enter or exit plaques. Within 2 days after apoE complementation, plasma cholesterol was normalized to wild-type levels, and HDL levels were increased 4-fold. Oil red O staining and quantitative mass spectroscopy revealed that esterified cholesterol content was markedly reduced. Plaque macrophage content decreased gradually and was 72% lower than baseline 4 weeks after apoE complementation. Importantly, this reduction in macrophages did not involve migratory egress from plaques or CCR7, a mediator of leukocyte emigration. Instead, marked suppression of monocyte recruitment coupled with a stable rate of apoptosis accounted for loss of plaque macrophages. These data suggest that therapies to inhibit monocyte recruitment to plaques may constitute a more viable strategy to reduce plaque macrophage burden than attempts to promote migratory egress.
Stephane Potteaux, Emmanuel L. Gautier, Susan B. Hutchison, Nico van Rooijen, Daniel J. Rader, Michael J. Thomas, Mary G. Sorci-Thomas, Gwendalyn J. Randolph
Cerebral cavernous malformations (CCMs) are a common type of vascular malformation in the brain that are a major cause of hemorrhagic stroke. This condition has been independently linked to 3 separate genes: Krev1 interaction trapped (KRIT1), Cerebral cavernous malformation 2 (CCM2), and Programmed cell death 10 (PDCD10). Despite the commonality in disease pathology caused by mutations in these 3 genes, we found that the loss of Pdcd10 results in significantly different developmental, cell biological, and signaling phenotypes from those seen in the absence of Ccm2 and Krit1. PDCD10 bound to germinal center kinase III (GCKIII) family members, a subset of serine-threonine kinases, and facilitated lumen formation by endothelial cells both in vivo and in vitro. These findings suggest that CCM may be a common tissue manifestation of distinct mechanistic pathways. Nevertheless, loss of heterozygosity (LOH) for either Pdcd10 or Ccm2 resulted in CCMs in mice. The murine phenotype induced by loss of either protein reproduced all of the key clinical features observed in human patients with CCM, as determined by direct comparison with genotype-specific human surgical specimens. These results suggest that CCM may be more effectively treated by directing therapies based on the underlying genetic mutation rather than treating the condition as a single clinical entity.
Aubrey C. Chan, Stavros G. Drakos, Oscar E. Ruiz, Alexandra C.H. Smith, Christopher C. Gibson, Jing Ling, Samuel F. Passi, Amber N. Stratman, Anastasia Sacharidou, M. Patricia Revelo, Allie H. Grossmann, Nikolaos A. Diakos, George E. Davis, Mark M. Metzstein, Kevin J. Whitehead, Dean Y. Li