Neural Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome protein (N-WASP)-mediated p120-catenin interaction with Arp2-Actin complex stabilizes endothelial adherens junctions.

Rajput C, Kini V, Smith M, Yazbeck P, Chavez A, Schmidt T, Zhang W, Knezevic N, Komarova Y, Mehta D.
Source: J Biol Chem
Publication Date: (2013)
Issue: 288(6): 4241-50
Research Area:
Basic Research
Cells used in publication:
Endothelial, pulmonary artery (HPAEC), human
Species: human
Tissue Origin: artery
Stable adherens junctions (AJs) are required for formation of restrictive endothelial barrier. Vascular endothelial cadherin from contiguous endothelial cells forms AJs, which are stabilized intracellularly by binding of p120-catenin and cortical actin. Mechanisms inducing cortical actin formation and enabling its linkage with p120-catenin remain enigmatic. We altered the function of neural Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome protein (N-WASP), which induces actin polymerization through actin-related protein 2/3 complex (Arp2/3), to address the role of N-WASP in regulating AJ stability and thereby endothelial permeability. We show that depletion of N-WASP in endothelial cells impaired AJ adhesion and favored the organization of actin from cortical actin to stress fibers, resulting thereby in formation of leaky endothelial barrier. Exposure of the N-WASP-depleted endothelial cell monolayer to the permeability-increasing mediator, thrombin, exaggerated AJ disruption and stress fiber formation, leading to an irreversible increase in endothelial permeability. We show that N-WASP binds p120-catenin through its verprolin cofilin acid (VCA) domain, induces cortical actin formation through Arp2, and links p120-catenin with cortical actin. The interaction of N-WASP with p120-catenin, actin, and Arp2 requires phosphorylation of N-WASP at the Tyr-256 residue by focal adhesion kinase. Expression of the VCA domain of N-WASP or phosphomimicking (Y256D)-N-WASP mutant in endothelial cells stabilizes AJs and facilitates barrier recovery after thrombin stimulation. Our study demonstrates that N-WASP, by mediating p120-catenin interaction with actin-polymerizing machinery, maintains AJs and mitigates disruption of endothelial barrier function by edemagenic agents, therefore representing a novel target for preventing leaky endothelial barrier syndrome.