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J Physiol. 1990 Dec;431:379-401.

Role of actin and myosin in the control of paracellular permeability in pig, rat and human vascular endothelium.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, University of Marburg, FRG.


1. We have investigated the endothelial actomyosin system with particular emphasis on its possible role in actively opening a paracellular route for permeability. 2. Actin and myosin comprised 16% of total endothelial protein with a molar actin/myosin ratio of 16.2 which is close to the actin/myosin ratio of muscle (studies on freshly isolated pig pulmonary arterial endothelial cells, PAEC). 3. By immunocytochemistry at the light and electron microscope levels the bulk of actin and myosin was colocalized in close vicinity to the intercellular clefts of both micro- and macrovascular endothelial cells in situ and in vitro. 4. Calcium-ionophore-induced rise in permeability of human umbilical venous endothelial cells (HUVEC) and PAEC monolayers grown on filters in a two-chamber permeability system was caused by opening of intercellular gaps. Gap formation depended on the rise in intracellular Ca2+ and could be blocked by the calmodulin-binding drugs trifluperazine (TFP) and W7. 5. In skinned monolayers of cultured PAEC and in isolated sheets of HUVEC gap formation was shown to require ATP and occurred only when free myosin binding sites were available on endothelial actin filaments (experiments with myosin subfragment 1 modified by N-ethylmaleimide, S1-NEM). 6. These experiments suggest that actin and myosin in endothelial cells play a central role in regulating the width of the intercellular clefts, thereby controlling the paracellular pathway of vascular permeability.

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