RhoB controls Akt trafficking and stage-specific survival of endothelial cells during vascular development

Adini I, Rabinovitz I, Sun JF, Prendergast GC and Benjamin LE
Source: Genes Dev
Publication Date: (2003)
Issue: 17: 2721-2732
Cells used in publication:
Endothelial, MV dermal (HMVEC-d), human
Species: human
Tissue Origin: dermal
Blood vessel formation is a complex morphological process that is only beginning to be understood at the molecular level. In this study, we demonstrate a novel and critical role for the small GTPase, RhoB, in vascular development. RhoB null mice have retarded vascular development in the retina characterized by altered sprout morphology. Moreover, pharmaceutical means to deplete RhoB in neonatal rats is associated with apoptosis in the sprouting endothelial cells of newly forming vessels. Similarly, acute depletion of RhoB by antisense or dominant-negative strategies in primary endothelial cell culture models led to apoptosis and failures in tube formation. We identified a novel link between RhoB and the Akt survival signaling pathway to explain these changes. Confocal microscopy revealed that RhoB is highly localized to the nuclear margin with a small percentage found inside the nucleus. Similarly, total Akt is throughout the cell but has increased accumulation at the nuclear margin, and active phosphorylated Akt is found primarily inside the nucleoplasm, where it partially colocalizes with the RhoB therein. We show that this colocalization is functionally relevant, because when RhoB was depleted, Akt was excluded from the nucleus and total cellular Akt protein was decreased in a proteosome-dependent manner. Because the function of RhoB in vivo appears to only be rate limiting for endothelial cell sprouting, we propose that RhoB has a novel stage-specific function to regulate endothelial cell survival during vascular development. RhoB may offer a therapeutic target in diseases such as cancer, diabetic retinopathy, and macular degeneration, where the disruption of sprouting angiogenesis would be desirable.