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J Biol Chem. 2011 Apr 15;286(15):13741-53. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M110.181842. Epub 2011 Feb 23.

Vascular smooth muscle Notch signals regulate endothelial cell sensitivity to angiogenic stimulation.

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Department of Medicine, Case Cardiovascular Research Institute, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio 44106, USA.


The evolutionarily conserved Notch signaling pathway is required for normal vascular development and function, and genetic associations link select Notch receptors and ligands to human clinical syndromes featuring blood vessel abnormalities and stroke susceptibility. A previously described mouse model engineered to suppress canonical Notch signaling in vascular smooth muscle cells (vSMCs) revealed surprising anatomical defects in arterial patterning and vessel maturation, suggesting that vSMCs have the functional capacity to influence blood vessel formation in a Notch signaling-dependent manner. In further analyses using this model system, we now show that explanted aortic ring tissue and Matrigel implants from the smooth muscle Notch signaling-deficient mice yield markedly diminished responses to angiogenic stimuli. Furthermore, cultured Notch signaling-deficient primary vSMCs have reduced proliferation and migration capacities and reveal diminished expression of PDGF receptor β and JAGGED1 ligand. These observations prompted a series of endothelial cell (EC)-vSMC co-culture experiments that revealed a requirement for intact vSMC Notch signals via JAGGED1 for efficient EC Notch1 receptor activation and EC proliferation. Taken together, these studies suggest a heterotypic model wherein Notch signaling in vSMCs provides early instructive cues to neighboring ECs important for optimal postnatal angiogenesis.

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