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Fluid shear stress on endothelial cells modulates mechanical tension across VE-cadherin and PECAM-1

  • Author(s): Conway, DE
  • Breckenridge, MT
  • Hinde, E
  • Gratton, E
  • Chen, CS
  • Schwartz, MA
  • et al.
Abstract

Fluid shear stress (FSS) from blood flow acting on the endothelium critically regulates vascular morphogenesis, blood pressure, and atherosclerosis [1]. FSS applied to endothelial cells (ECs) triggers signaling events including opening of ion channels, activation of signaling pathways, and changes in gene expression. Elucidating how ECs sense flow is important for understanding both normal vascular function and disease. EC responses to FSS are mediated in part by a junctional mechanosensory complex consisting of VE-cadherin, PECAM-1, and VEGFR2 [2]. Previous work suggested that flow increases force on PECAM-1, which initiates signaling [2-4]. Deletion of PECAM-1 blocks responses to flow in vitro and flow-dependent vascular remodeling in vivo [2, 5]. To understand this process, we developed and validated FRET-based tension sensors for VE-cadherin and PECAM-1 using our previously developed FRET tension biosensor [6]. FRET measurements showed that in static culture, VE-cadherin in cell-cell junctions bears significant myosin-dependent tension, whereas there was no detectable tension on VE-cadherin outside of junctions. Onset of shear stress triggered a rapid (<30 s) decrease in tension across VE-cadherin, which paralleled a decrease in total cell-cell junctional tension. Flow triggered a simultaneous increase in tension across junctional PECAM-1, while nonjunctional PECAM-1 was unaffected. Tension on PECAM-1 was mediated by flow-stimulated association with vimentin. These data confirm the prediction that shear increases force on PECAM-1. However, they also argue against the current model of passive transfer of force through the cytoskeleton to the junctions [7], showing instead that flow triggers cytoskeletal remodeling, which alters forces across the junctional receptors. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

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