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Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2011 Jan;300(1):H162-72. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00650.2010. Epub 2010 Oct 29.

Phosphorylation of VE-cadherin controls endothelial phenotypes via p120-catenin coupling and Rac1 activation.

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Section of Cardiovascular Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-8017, USA.


To establish the role of vascular endothelial (VE)-cadherin in the regulation of endothelial cell functions, we investigated the effect of phosphorylation of a VE-cadherin site sought to be involved in p120-catenin binding on vascular permeability and endothelial cell migration. To this end, we introduced either wild-type VE-cadherin or Y658 phosphomimetic (Y658E) or dephosphomimetic (Y658F) VE-cadherin mutant constructs into an endothelial cell line (rat fat pad endothelial cells) lacking endogenous VE-cadherin. Remarkably, neither wild-type- nor Y658E VE-cadherin was retained at cell-cell contacts because of p120-catenin preferential binding to N-cadherin, resulting in the targeting of N-cadherin to cell-cell junctions and the exclusion of VE-cadherin. However, Y658F VE-cadherin was able to bind p120-catenin and to localize at adherence junctions displacing N-cadherin. This resulted in an enhanced barrier function and a complete abrogation of Rac1 activation and lamellipodia formation, thereby inhibiting cell migration. These findings demonstrate that VE-cadherin, through the regulation of Y658 phosphorylation, competes for junctional localization with N-cadherin and controls vascular permeability and endothelial cell migration.

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