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Moztarzadeh, Sina; Sepic, Sara; Hamad, Ibrahim; Waschke, Jens; Radeva, Mariya Y.; García-Ponce, Alexander (2024): Cortactin is in a complex with VE-cadherin and is required for endothelial adherens junction stability through Rap1/Rac1 activation. Scientific Reports, 14 (1). ISSN 2045-2322

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Vascular permeability is mediated by Cortactin (Cttn) and regulated by several molecules including cyclic-adenosine-monophosphate, small Rho family GTPases and the actin cytoskeleton. However, it is unclear whether Cttn directly interacts with any of the junctional components or if Cttn intervenes with signaling pathways affecting the intercellular contacts and the cytoskeleton. To address these questions, we employed immortalized microvascular myocardial endothelial cells derived from wild-type and Cttn-knock-out mice. We found that lack of Cttn compromised barrier integrity due to fragmented membrane distribution of different junctional proteins. Moreover, immunoprecipitations revealed that Cttn is within the VE-cadherin-based adherens junction complex. In addition, lack of Cttn slowed-down barrier recovery after Ca2+ repletion. The role of Cttn for cAMP-mediated endothelial barrier regulation was analyzed using Forskolin/Rolipram. In contrast to Cttn-KO, WT cells reacted with increased transendothelial electrical resistance. Absence of Cttn disturbed Rap1 and Rac1 activation in Cttn-depleted cells. Surprisingly, despite the absence of Cttn, direct activation of Rac1/Cdc42/RhoA by CN04 increased barrier resistance and induced well-defined cortical actin and intracellular actin bundles. In summary, our data show that Cttn is required for basal barrier integrity by allowing proper membrane distribution of junctional proteins and for cAMP–mediated activation of the Rap1/Rac1 signaling pathway.

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