Junctional complex and focal adhesion rearrangement mediates pulmonary endothelial barrier enhancement by FTY720 S-phosphonate

Lichun Wang, Robert Bittman, Joe G.N. Garcia, Steven M. Dudek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Rationale: Modulation of pulmonary vascular barrier function is an important clinical goal given the devastating effects of vascular leak in acute lung injury (ALI). We previously demonstrated that FTY720 S-phosphonate (Tys), an analog of sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P) and FTY720, has more potent pulmonary barrier protective effects than these agents in vitro and in mouse models of ALI. Tys preserves expression of the barrier-promoting S1P1 receptor (S1PR1), whereas S1P and FTY720 induce its ubiquitination and degradation. Here we further characterize the novel barrier promoting effects of Tys in cultured human pulmonary endothelial cells (EC). Methods/Results: In human lung EC, Tys significantly increased peripheral redistribution of adherens junction proteins VE-cadherin and β-catenin and tight junction protein ZO-1. Inhibition of VE-cadherin with blocking antibody significantly attenuated Tys-induced transendothelial resistance (TER) elevation, while ZO-1 siRNA partially inhibited this elevation. Tys significantly increased focal adhesion formation and phosphorylation of focal adhesion kinase (FAK). Pharmacologic inhibition of FAK significantly attenuated Tys-induced TER elevation. Tys significantly increased phosphorylation and peripheral redistribution of the actin-binding protein, cortactin, while cortactin siRNA partially attenuated Tys-induced TER elevation. Although Tys significantly increased phosphorylation of Akt and GSK3β, neither PI3 kinase nor GSK3β inhibition altered Tys-induced TER elevation. Tys significantly increased Rac1 activity, while inhibition of Rac1 activity significantly attenuated Tys-induced VE-cadherin redistribution and TER elevation. Conclusion: Junctional complex, focal adhesion rearrangement and Rac1 activation play critical roles in Tys-mediated barrier protection in pulmonary EC. These results provide mechanistic insights into the effects of this potential ALI therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)102-109
Number of pages8
JournalMicrovascular Research
StatePublished - May 1 2015


  • Acute lung injury
  • FTY720 S-phosphonate
  • Pulmonary vascular barrier
  • Rac1
  • VE-cadherin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Cell Biology


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