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      Vasculogenesis, Angiogenesis and the Molecular Organisation of Endothelial Junctions in the Early Human Placenta

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          Vasculogenesis and angiogenesis are regulated by the capacity of endothelial cells to adhere to each other and form new tubes. The presence and role of junctional adhesion molecules during physiological vasculogenesis is unknown. Using ultrastructural and immunocytochemical approaches, we compared the junctional phenotype of developing vessels of the first-trimester human placenta with vessels in the last trimester; the latter include newly formed terminal capillaries and the quiescent vascular bed. First-trimester placental vessels contained the adherens junctional molecules, vascular endothelial cadherin and α- and β-catenin but lacked plakoglobin, the component of fully differentiated adherens junctions. Furthermore, these vessels did not contain the transmembrane tight junctional molecules occludin and claudin-1 and -2. This profile reflects the phenotype of terminal capillaries but differs from large vessels of the full-term placenta. Electron microscopic studies revealed that endothelial tight junctions are present in the first-trimester placenta. Thus, occludin and claudin-1 appear to play no part in the formation of endothelial tight junctions, but are a later requirement. In the early placenta, the predominant growth factor appears to be vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), whilst at term, angiopoietin-1 was present in large vessels, with intense angiopoietin-2 immunofluorescence (and VEGF) located in terminal villous capillaries. Thus, endothelial junctions in the human placenta possess two distinct molecular phenotypes, i.e. stable or dynamic, dependent on maturity and plasticity. These distinct phenotypes may be influenced by the angiopoietins/VEGF present in the placenta.

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          Most cited references 6

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          Vascular-specific growth factors and blood vessel formation.

          A recent explosion in newly discovered vascular growth factors has coincided with exploitation of powerful new genetic approaches for studying vascular development. An emerging rule is that all of these factors must be used in perfect harmony to form functional vessels. These new findings also demand re-evaluation of therapeutic efforts aimed at regulating blood vessel growth in ischaemia, cancer and other pathological settings.
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            Claudin-1 and -2: Novel Integral Membrane Proteins Localizing at Tight Junctions with No Sequence Similarity to Occludin

            Occludin is the only known integral membrane protein localizing at tight junctions (TJ), but recent targeted disruption analysis of the occludin gene indicated the existence of as yet unidentified integral membrane proteins in TJ. We therefore re-examined the isolated junction fraction from chicken liver, from which occludin was first identified. Among numerous components of this fraction, only a broad silver-stained band ∼22 kD was detected with the occludin band through 4 M guanidine-HCl extraction as well as sonication followed by stepwise sucrose density gradient centrifugation. Two distinct peptide sequences were obtained from the lower and upper halves of the broad band, and similarity searches of databases allowed us to isolate two full-length cDNAs encoding related mouse 22-kD proteins consisting of 211 and 230 amino acids, respectively. Hydrophilicity analysis suggested that both bore four transmembrane domains, although they did not show any sequence similarity to occludin. Immunofluorescence and immunoelectron microscopy revealed that both proteins tagged with FLAG or GFP were targeted to and incorporated into the TJ strand itself. We designated them as “claudin-1” and “claudin-2”, respectively. Although the precise structure/function relationship of the claudins to TJ still remains elusive, these findings indicated that multiple integral membrane proteins with four putative transmembrane domains, occludin and claudins, constitute TJ strands.
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              Involvement of ZO-1 in Cadherin-based Cell Adhesion through Its Direct Binding to α Catenin and Actin Filaments

              ZO-1, a 220-kD peripheral membrane protein consisting of an amino-terminal half discs large (dlg)-like domain and a carboxyl-terminal half domain, is concentrated at the cadherin-based cell adhesion sites in non-epithelial cells. We introduced cDNAs encoding the full-length ZO-1, its amino-terminal half (N-ZO-1), and carboxyl-terminal half (C-ZO-1) into mouse L fibroblasts expressing exogenous E-cadherin (EL cells). The full-length ZO-1 as well as N-ZO-1 were concentrated at cadherin-based cell–cell adhesion sites. In good agreement with these observations, N-ZO-1 was specifically coimmunoprecipitated from EL transfectants expressing N-ZO-1 (NZ-EL cells) with the E-cadherin/α, β catenin complex. In contrast, C-ZO-1 was localized along actin stress fibers. To examine the molecular basis of the behavior of these truncated ZO-1 molecules, N-ZO-1 and C-ZO-1 were produced in insect Sf9 cells by recombinant baculovirus infection, and their direct binding ability to the cadherin/catenin complex and the actin-based cytoskeleton, respectively, were examined in vitro. Recombinant N-ZO-1 bound directly to the glutathione-S-transferase fusion protein with α catenin, but not to that with β catenin or the cytoplasmic domain of E-cadherin. The dissociation constant between N-ZO-1 and α catenin was ∼0.5 nM. On the other hand, recombinant C-ZO-1 was specifically cosedimented with actin filaments in vitro with a dissociation constant of ∼10 nM. Finally, we compared the cadherin-based cell adhesion activity of NZ-EL cells with that of parent EL cells. Cell aggregation assay revealed no significant differences among these cells, but the cadherin-dependent intercellular motility, i.e., the cell movement in a confluent monolayer, was significantly suppressed in NZ-EL cells. We conclude that in nonepithelial cells, ZO-1 works as a cross-linker between cadherin/catenin complex and the actin-based cytoskeleton through direct interaction with α catenin and actin filaments at its amino- and carboxyl-terminal halves, respectively, and that ZO-1 is a functional component in the cadherin-based cell adhesion system.

                Author and article information

                J Vasc Res
                Journal of Vascular Research
                S. Karger AG
                June 2002
                22 August 2008
                : 39
                : 3
                : 246-259
                School of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Nottingham, Queens Medical Centre, Nottingham, UK
                63690 J Vasc Res 2002;39:246–259
                © 2002 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Page count
                Figures: 7, References: 31, Pages: 14
                Research Paper


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