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J Biol Chem. 2008 May 9;283(19):13437-49. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M707986200. Epub 2008 Mar 7.

TLR4 signaling is coupled to SRC family kinase activation, tyrosine phosphorylation of zonula adherens proteins, and opening of the paracellular pathway in human lung microvascular endothelia.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, University of Maryland, Baltimore, Maryland 21201, USA.


Bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) is a key mediator in the vascular leak syndromes associated with Gram-negative bacterial infections. LPS opens the paracellular pathway in pulmonary vascular endothelia through protein tyrosine phosphorylation. We now have identified the protein-tyrosine kinases (PTKs) and their substrates required for LPS-induced protein tyrosine phosphorylation and opening of the paracellular pathway in human lung microvascular endothelial cells (HMVEC-Ls). LPS disrupted barrier integrity in a dose- and time-dependent manner, and prior broad spectrum PTK inhibition was protective. LPS increased tyrosine phosphorylation of zonula adherens proteins, VE-cadherin, gamma-catenin, and p120(ctn). Two SRC family PTK (SFK)-selective inhibitors, PP2 and SU6656, blocked LPS-induced increments in tyrosine phosphorylation of VE-cadherin and p120(ctn) and paracellular permeability. In HMVEC-Ls, c-SRC, YES, FYN, and LYN were expressed at both mRNA and protein levels. Selective small interfering RNA-induced knockdown of c-SRC, FYN, or YES diminished LPS-induced SRC Tyr(416) phosphorylation, tyrosine phosphorylation of VE-cadherin and p120(ctn), and barrier disruption, whereas knockdown of LYN did not. For VE-cadherin phosphorylation, knockdown of either c-SRC or FYN provided total protection, whereas YES knockdown was only partially protective. For p120(ctn) phosphorylation, knockdown of FYN, c-SRC, or YES each provided comparable but partial protection. Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) was expressed both on the surface and intracellular compartment of HMVEC-Ls. Prior knockdown of TLR4 blocked both LPS-induced SFK activation and barrier disruption. These data indicate that LPS recognition by TLR4 activates the SFKs, c-SRC, FYN, and YES, which, in turn, contribute to tyrosine phosphorylation of zonula adherens proteins to open the endothelial paracellular pathway.

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