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Angiopoietin 2 regulates the transformation and integrity of lymphatic endothelial cell junctions.

Genes & development (2014-07-18)
Wei Zheng, Harri Nurmi, Sila Appak, Amélie Sabine, Esther Bovay, Emilia A Korhonen, Fabrizio Orsenigo, Marja Lohela, Gabriela D'Amico, Tanja Holopainen, Ching Ching Leow, Elisabetta Dejana, Tatiana V Petrova, Hellmut G Augustin, Kari Alitalo
ABSTRACT

Primitive lymphatic vessels are remodeled into functionally specialized initial and collecting lymphatics during development. Lymphatic endothelial cell (LEC) junctions in initial lymphatics transform from a zipper-like to a button-like pattern during collecting vessel development, but what regulates this process is largely unknown. Angiopoietin 2 (Ang2) deficiency leads to abnormal lymphatic vessels. Here we found that an ANG2-blocking antibody inhibited embryonic lymphangiogenesis, whereas endothelium-specific ANG2 overexpression induced lymphatic hyperplasia. ANG2 inhibition blocked VE-cadherin phosphorylation at tyrosine residue 685 and the concomitant formation of button-like junctions in initial lymphatics. The defective junctions were associated with impaired lymph uptake. In collecting lymphatics, adherens junctions were disrupted, and the vessels leaked upon ANG2 blockade or gene deletion. ANG2 inhibition also suppressed the onset of lymphatic valve formation and subsequent valve maturation. These data identify ANG2 as the first essential regulator of the functionally important interendothelial cell-cell junctions that form during lymphatic development.

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