In the developing vasculature, cilia, microtubule-based organelles that project from the apical surface of endothelial cells (ECs), have been identified to function cell autonomously to promote vascular integrity and prevent hemorrhage. To date, the underlying mechanisms of endothelial cilia formation (ciliogenesis) are not fully understood. Understanding these mechanisms is likely to open new avenues for targeting EC-cilia to promote vascular stability. Here, we hypothesized that brain ECs ciliogenesis and the underlying mechanisms that control this process are critical for brain vascular stability. To investigate this hypothesis, we utilized multiple approaches including developmental zebrafish model system and primary cell culture systems. In the p21 activated kinase 2 (pak2a) zebrafish vascular stability mutant [redhead (rhd)] that shows cerebral hemorrhage, we observed significant decrease in cilia-inducing protein ADP Ribosylation Factor Like GTPase 13B (Arl13b), and a 4-fold decrease in cilia numbers. Overexpressing ARL13B-GFP fusion mRNA rescues the cilia numbers (1–2-fold) in brain vessels, and the cerebral hemorrhage phenotype. Further, this phenotypic rescue occurs at a critical time in development (24 h post fertilization), prior to initiation of blood flow to the brain vessels. Extensive biochemical mechanistic studies in primary human brain microvascular ECs implicate ligands platelet-derived growth factor-BB (PDGF-BB), and vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF-A) trigger PAK2-ARL13B ciliogenesis and signal through cell surface VEGFR-2 receptor. Thus, collectively, we have implicated a critical brain ECs ciliogenesis signal that converges on PAK2-ARL13B proteins to promote vascular stability.
Thirugnanam K., Prabhudesai S., Van Why E., et al. Ciliogenesis mechanisms mediated by PAK2-ARL13B signaling in brain endothelial cells is responsible for vascular stability. Biochem Pharmacol. 2022;202:115143. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bcp.2022.115143
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