Endothelial Cells Require Related Transcription Enhancer Factor-1 for Cell–Cell Connections Through the Induction of Gap Junction Proteins
Objective—Capillary network formation represents a specialized endothelial cell function and is a prerequisite to establish a continuous vessel lumen. Formation of endothelial cell connections that form the vascular structure is regulated, at least in part, at the transcriptional level. We report here that related transcription enhancer factor-1 (RTEF-1) plays an important role in vascular structure formation.
Methods and Results—Knockdown of RTEF-1 by small interfering RNA or blockage of RTEF-1 function by the transcriptional enhancer activators domain decreased endothelial connections in a Matrigel assay, whereas overexpression of RTEF-1 in endothelial cells resulted in a significant increase in cell connections and aggregation. In a model of oxygen-induced retinopathy, endothelial-specific RTEF-1 overexpressing mice had enhanced angiogenic sprouting and vascular structure remodeling, resulting in the formation of a denser and more highly interconnected superficial capillary plexus. Mechanistic studies revealed that RTEF-1 induced the expression of functional gap junction proteins including connexin 43, connexin 40, and connexin 37. Blocking connexin 43 function inhibited RTEF-1–induced endothelial cell connections and aggregation.
Conclusion—These findings provide novel insights into the transcriptional control of endothelial function in the coordination of cell–cell connections.
- related transcription enhancer factor-1
- endothelial cells
- gap junctions
- connexin 43
- cell–cell connections
- Received November 17, 2011.
- Accepted May 7, 2012.
- © 2012 American Heart Association, Inc.