Abstract 15: Novel Functions of Small GTPase Rap1 in Regulating Endothelial Homeostasis: Control of Nitric Oxide Release, Vascular Function and Blood Pressure
Endothelial dysfunction, resulting from decreased nitric oxide (NO) bioavailability is a pathology linked to endothelial vasomotor dysfunction and hypertension, inflammation and atherosclerosis, perturbed endothelial barrier and progression of diabetes. In blood vessels, NO is produced by the endothelial NO synthase (eNOS), the activity of which is regulated by Ca2+/calmodulin, binding of regulatory cofactors, and posttranslational modifications, including phosphorylation events on Ser1177, which stimulate NO production. Rap1 is a ubiquitously expressed small GTPase implicated in promoting vascular barrier. We have shown that endothelial cell (EC)-specific Rap1 deletion leads to defective angiogenesis in vivo due to faulty VEGFR2 activation and signaling. Importantly, EC-specific Rap1 knockout mice developed hypertension and pathological left ventricular hypertrophy.
The objective of the study was to determine the role of small G protein Rap1 in regulating endothelial NO production and endothelial-dependent vasorelaxation in vivo and ex vivo.
Using ex vivo myography and tamoxifen-inducible, endothelial-specific Rap1-knockout mice (Cadh5-CreERT2+/0;Rap1f/f), we demonstrate that Rap1 deficiency completely abrogates NO-dependent vasodilation and attenuates NO production. Mechanistically, we show that Rap1 is rapidly activated in response to receptor agonists that activate eNOS via Ca2+/calmodulin- dependent pathway and in response to shear flow, which modules eNOS activity by its phosphorylation. Rap1 deletion in human ECs, in vitro, leads to deficient NO release in response to both these stimuli, and interferes with PI3K/Akt pathway and eNOS Ser1177 phosphorylation. Further, we demonstrate Rap1 is required for transducing signals from the endothelial mechanosensing complex comprising PECAM-1, VE-cadherin and VEGFR2 in response to shear flow, leading to ligand-independent VEGFR2 activation and signaling to stimulate NO production.
We conclude that Rap1 in endothelium is critically required for endothelial homeostasis and NO production, thereby affecting vascular tone and regulation of blood pressure. Furthermore, this study establishes Rap1 as a novel regulator of mechanotransduction in response to shear flow.
Author Disclosures: S. Lakshmikanthan: None. X. Zheng: None. Y. Nishijima: None. J. Vasquez-Vivar: None. D.X. Zhang: Research Grant; Modest; NIH DK088905, NIH HL096647. M. Chrzanowska-Wodnicka: Research Grant; Significant; NIH-HL111583, AHA 0950118G.
This research has received full or partial funding support from the American Heart Association.
- © 2014 by American Heart Association, Inc.