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Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2011 Apr;300(4):C833-42. doi: 10.1152/ajpcell.00003.2010. Epub 2011 Jan 12.

Protective cross talk between activated protein C and TNF signaling in vascular endothelial cells: implication of EPCR, noncanonical NF-κB, and ERK1/2 MAP kinases.

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Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale, Nantes, France.


Activated protein C (APC) is a natural anticoagulant protease that displays cytoprotective and antiinflammatory activities and has been demonstrated to reduce mortality of patients with severe sepsis. However, APC signaling is not fully understood. This study further investigated the antiinflammatory effects of APC in vascular endothelial cells (EC) and examined the cross talk between APC and TNF signaling. Analysis of the regulatory mechanisms mediated by APC on vascular human EC shows that APC impairs TNF signaling by triggering a preemptive activation of intracellular pathways. We found that APC signaling causes a moderate but significant induction of cell adhesion molecules (CAMs) including VCAM-1 at mRNA and protein levels. Activation of the noncanonical NF-κB and ERK1/2 are both pivotal to APC signaling leading to VCAM-1 expression. APC upregulates TNF receptor-associated factor 2 (TRAF2) and phosphorylates NF-κB p65 at Ser276 and Ser536 independently of IκB degradation. The ultimate protective antiinflammatory effect of APC in response to TNF is associated with a sustained activation of ERK1/2 and Akt while phosphorylation of NF-κB p65 is precluded. Inhibitors of ERK (PD98059 and U0126) abolish the antiinflammatory signal mediated by APC. Blocking antibodies and silencing assays also suggest that, in EC, protease-activated receptor 1 and endothelial protein C receptor (EPCR) both conduct ERK activation and VCAM-1 induction in response to APC. To conclude, APC protects EC by attenuating CAM expression during inflammation. APC engages a regulatory cross talk involving EPCR, ERK, and NF-κB that impairs TNF signaling.

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