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J Mol Med (Berl). 2013 Jan;91(1):25-36. doi: 10.1007/s00109-012-0968-y. Epub 2012 Oct 24.

TRAIL death receptor 4 signaling via lysosome fusion and membrane raft clustering in coronary arterial endothelial cells: evidence from ASM knockout mice.

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Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology, Medical College of Virginia Campus, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA 23298, USA.


Tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) and its receptor, death receptor 4 (DR4), have been implicated in the development of endothelial dysfunction and atherosclerosis. However, the signaling mechanism mediating DR4 activation leading to endothelial injury remains unclear. We recently demonstrated that ceramide production via hydrolysis of membrane sphingomyelin by acid sphingomyelinase (ASM) results in membrane raft (MR) clustering and the formation of important redox signaling platforms, which play a crucial role in amplifying redox signaling in endothelial cells leading to endothelial dysfunction. The present study aims to investigate whether TRAIL triggers MR clustering via lysosome fusion and ASM activation, thereby conducting transmembrane redox signaling and changing endothelial function. Using confocal microscopy, we found that TRAIL induced MR clustering and co-localized with DR4 in coronary arterial endothelial cells (CAECs) isolated from wild-type (Smpd1 (+/+)) mice. Furthermore, TRAIL triggered ASM translocation, ceramide production, and NADPH oxidase aggregation in MR clusters in Smpd1 ( +/+ ) CAECs, whereas these observations were not found in Smpd1 (-/-) CAECs. Moreover, ASM deficiency reduced TRAIL-induced O(2) (-[Symbol: see text]) production in CAECs and abolished TRAIL-induced impairment on endothelium-dependent vasodilation in small resistance arteries. By measuring fluorescence resonance energy transfer, we found that Lamp-1 (lysosome membrane marker protein) and ganglioside G(M1) (MR marker) were trafficking together in Smpd1 (+/+) CAECs, which was absent in Smpd1 (-/-) CAECs. Consistently, fluorescence imaging of living cells with specific lysosome probes demonstrated that TRAIL-induced lysosome fusion with membrane was also absent in Smpd1 (-/-) CAECs. Taken together, these results suggest that ASM is essential for TRAIL-induced lysosomal trafficking, membrane fusion and formation of MR redox signaling platforms, which may play an important role in DR4-mediated redox signaling in CAECs and consequently endothelial dysfunction.

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