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Circ Res. 2003 Jun 27;92(12):1314-21. Epub 2003 May 29.

Dismantling of cadherin-mediated cell-cell contacts modulates smooth muscle cell proliferation.

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  • 1Bristol Heart Institute, Level 7, Bristol Royal Infirmary, Bristol, BS2 8HW, UK.


Proliferation of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) contributes to intimal thickening during atherosclerosis and restenosis. The cadherins are transmembrane proteins, which form cell-cell contacts and may regulate VSMC proliferation. In this study, N-cadherin protein concentration was significantly reduced by stimulation of proliferation with fetal calf serum (FCS) and platelet-derived growth factor-BB (PDGF-BB) in human saphenous vein VSMCs. Furthermore, overexpression of a truncated N-cadherin, which acts as a dominant-negative increased VSMC proliferation. The amount of an extracellular fragment of N-cadherin (approximately 90 kDa) in the media after 24 hours was increased by 12-fold by FCS and 11-fold by PDGF-BB, suggesting that N-cadherin levels are regulated by proteolytic shedding. Incubation with a synthetic metalloproteinase inhibitor or adenoviral overexpression of the endogenous tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases (TIMPs) demonstrated that metalloproteinase activity was responsible in part for this proteolysis. Although total levels of beta-catenin protein were not affected, beta-catenin was translocated to the nucleus after stimulation with FCS and PDGF-BB. Our data indicates cadherin-mediated cell-cell contacts modulate proliferation in VSMCs. Furthermore, disruption of N-cadherin cell-cell contacts mediated in part by metalloproteinase activity occurs during VSMC proliferation, releasing beta-catenin and possibly inducing beta-catenin-mediated intracellular signaling.

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