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J Biol Chem. 2014 Feb 21;289(8):5168-83. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M113.493924. Epub 2013 Dec 18.

Control of vascular permeability by atrial natriuretic peptide via a GEF-H1-dependent mechanism.

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  • 1From the Lung Injury Center, Section of Pulmonary and Critical Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60637.


Microtubule (MT) dynamics is involved in a variety of cell functions, including control of the endothelial cell (EC) barrier. Release of Rho-specific nucleotide exchange factor GEF-H1 from microtubules activates the Rho pathway of EC permeability. In turn, pathologic vascular leak can be prevented by treatment with atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP). This study investigated a novel mechanism of vascular barrier protection by ANP via modulation of GEF-H1 function. In pulmonary ECs, ANP suppressed thrombin-induced disassembly of peripheral MT and attenuated Rho signaling and cell retraction. ANP effects were mediated by the Rac1 GTPase effector PAK1. Activation of Rac1-PAK1 promoted PAK1 interaction with the Rho activator GEF-H1, inducing phosphorylation of total and MT-bound GEF-H1 and leading to attenuation of Rho-dependent actin remodeling. In vivo, ANP attenuated lung injury caused by excessive mechanical ventilation and TRAP peptide (TRAP/HTV), which was further exacerbated in ANP(-/-) mice. The protective effects of ANP against TRAP/HTV-induced lung injury were linked to the increased pool of stabilized MT and inactivation of Rho signaling via ANP-induced, PAK1-dependent inhibitory phosphorylation of GEF-H1. This study demonstrates a novel protective mechanism of ANP against pathologic hyperpermeability and suggests a novel pharmacological intervention for the prevention of increased vascular leak via PAK1-dependent modulation of GEF-H1 activity.


Endothelial Dysfunction; Lung Injury; Microtubules; Permeability; Rho GTPases; Signal Transduction; Vascular Biology

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