Investigating the Role of cAMP-Signaling in the Regulation of Vascular Endothelial Cell Adaptive Responses to Fluid Shear Stress
Rampersad, Sarah Nissa
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The circulating blood exerts a force on the vascular endothelium, termed fluid shear stress (FSS), which directly impacts numerous vascular endothelial cell (VEC) functions. For example, high rates of linear and undisturbed (i.e. laminar) blood flow maintains a protective and quiescent VEC phenotype. Meanwhile, deviations in blood flow, which can occur at vascular branchpoints and large curvatures, create areas of low, and/or oscillatory FSS, and promote a pro-inflammatory, pro-thrombotic and hyperpermeable phenotype. Indeed, it is known that these areas are prone to the development of atherosclerotic lesions. Herein, we show that cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterase (PDE) 4D (PDE4D) activity is increased by FSS in human arterial endothelial cells (HAECs) and that this activation regulates the activity of cAMP-effector protein, Exchange Protein-activated by cAMP-1 (EPAC1), in these cells. Importantly, we also show that these events directly and critically impact HAEC responses to FSS, especially when FSS levels are low. Both morphological events induced by FSS, as measured by changes in cell alignment and elongation in the direction of FSS, and the expression of critical FSS-regulated genes, including Krüppel-like factor 2 (KLF2), endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) and thrombomodlin (TM), are mediated by EPAC1/PDE4D signaling. At a mechanistic level, we show that EPAC1/PDE4D acts through the vascular endothelial-cadherin (VECAD)/ platelet-cell adhesion molecule-1 (PECAM1)/vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2 (VEGFR2) mechanosensor to activate downstream signaling though Akt. Given the critical role of PDE4D in mediating these effects, we also investigated the impact of various patterns of FSS on the expression of individual PDE genes in HAECs. Notably, PDE2A was significantly upregulated in response to high, laminar FSS, while PDE3A was upregulated under low, oscillatory FSS conditions only. These data may provide novel therapeutic targets to limit FSS-dependent endothelial cell dysfunction (ECD) and atherosclerotic development.