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J Biol Chem. 2004 Sep 24;279(39):40659-69. Epub 2004 Jul 30.

Small interfering RNA-mediated down-regulation of caveolin-1 differentially modulates signaling pathways in endothelial cells.

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  • 1Cardiovascular, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


Caveolin-1 is a scaffolding/regulatory protein that interacts with diverse signaling molecules in endothelial cells. To explore the role of this protein in receptor-modulated signaling pathways, we transfected bovine aortic endothelial cells (BAEC) with small interfering RNA (siRNA) duplexes to down-regulate caveolin-1 expression. Transfection of BAEC with duplex siRNA targeted against caveolin-1 mRNA selectively "knocked-down" the expression of caveolin-1 by approximately 90%, as demonstrated by immunoblot analyses of BAEC lysates. We used discontinuous sucrose gradients to purify caveolin-containing lipid rafts from siRNA-treated endothelial cells. Despite the near-total down-regulation of caveolin-1 expression, the lipid raft targeting of diverse signaling proteins (including the endothelial isoform of nitric-oxide synthase, Src-family tyrosine kinases, Galphaq and the insulin receptor) was unchanged. We explored the consequences of caveolin-1 knockdown on kinase pathways modulated by the agonists sphingosine-1 phosphate (S1P) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). siRNA-mediated caveolin-1 knockdown enhanced basal as well as S1P- and VEGF-induced phosphorylation of the protein kinase Akt and did not modify the basal or agonist-induced phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinases 1/2. Caveolin-1 knock-down also significantly enhanced the basal and agonist-induced activity of the small GTPase Rac. We used siRNA to down-regulate Rac expression in BAEC, and we observed that Rac knockdown significantly reduced basal, S1P-, and VEGF-induced Akt phosphorylation, suggesting a role for Rac activation in the caveolin siRNA-mediated increase in Akt phosphorylation. By using siRNA to knockdown caveolin-1 and Rac expression in cultured endothelial cells, we have found that caveolin-1 does not seem to be required for the targeting of signaling molecules to caveolae/lipid rafts and that caveolin-1 differentially modulates specific kinase pathways in endothelial cells.

Copyright 2004 American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.

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