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Blood. 2011 Jul 28;118(4):1145-53. doi: 10.1182/blood-2010-10-315275. Epub 2011 May 31.

RhoJ is an endothelial cell-restricted Rho GTPase that mediates vascular morphogenesis and is regulated by the transcription factor ERG.

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Division of Cardiology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.


ERG is a member of the ETS transcription factor family that is highly enriched in endothelial cells (ECs). To further define the role of ERG in regulating EC function, we evaluated the effect of ERG knock-down on EC lumen formation in 3D collagen matrices. Blockade of ERG using siRNA completely interferes with EC lumen formation. Quantitative PCR (QPCR) was used to identify potential downstream gene targets of ERG. In particular, we identified RhoJ as the Rho GTPase family member that is closely related to Cdc42 as a target of ERG. Knockdown of ERG expression in ECs led to a 75% reduction in the expression of RhoJ. Chromatin immunoprecipitation and transactivation studies demonstrated that ERG could bind to functional sites in the proximal promoter of the RhoJ gene. Knock-down of RhoJ similarly resulted in a marked reduction in the ability of ECs to form lumens. Suppression of either ERG or RhoJ during EC lumen formation was associated with a marked increase in RhoA activation and a decrease in Rac1 and Cdc42 activation and their downstream effectors. Finally, in contrast to other Rho GTPases, RhoJ exhibits a highly EC-restricted expression pattern in several different tissues, including the brain, heart, lung, and liver.

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