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J Biol Chem. 2010 Aug 20;285(34):26199-210. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M110.103127. Epub 2010 Jun 15.

Erk5 activation elicits a vasoprotective endothelial phenotype via induction of Kruppel-like factor 4 (KLF4).

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  • 1Department of Dermatology, University Hospital Mannheim, University of Heidelberg, Mannheim 68167, Germany.


The MEK5/Erk5 MAPK cascade has recently been implicated in the regulation of endothelial integrity and represents a candidate pathway mediating the beneficial effects of laminar flow, a major factor preventing vascular dysfunction and disease. Here we expressed a constitutively active mutant of MEK5 (MEK5D) to study the transcriptional and functional responses to Erk5 activation in human primary endothelial cells. We provide evidence that constitutive Erk5 activation elicits an overall protective phenotype characterized by increased apoptosis resistance and a decreased angiogenic, migratory, and inflammatory potential. This is supported by bioinformatic microarray analysis, which uncovered a statistical overrepresentation of corresponding functional clusters as well as a significant induction of anti-thrombotic, hemostatic, and vasodilatory genes. We identify KLF4 as a novel Erk5 target and demonstrate a critical role of this transcription factor downstream of Erk5. We show that KLF4 expression largely reproduces the protective phenotype in endothelial cells, whereas KLF4 siRNA suppresses expression of various Erk5 targets. Additionally, we show that vasoprotective statins potently induce KLF4 and KLF4-dependent gene expression via activation of Erk5. Our data underscore a major protective function of the MEK5/Erk5/KLF4 module in ECs and implicate agonistic Erk5 activation as potential strategy for treatment of vascular diseases.

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