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Open Access Highly Accessed Original investigation

Disruption of endothelial adherens junctions by high glucose is mediated by protein kinase C-beta-dependent vascular endothelial cadherin tyrosine phosphorylation

Mehran Haidari, Wei Zhang, James T Willerson and Richard AF Dixon

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Cardiovascular Diabetology 2014, 13:112  doi:10.1186/1475-2840-13-112

Published: 15 July 2014

Abstract (provisional)


Hyperglycemia has been recognized as a primary factor in endothelial barrier dysfunction and in the development of micro- and macrovascular diseases associated with diabetes, but the underlying biochemical mechanisms remain elusive. Tyrosine phosphorylation of vascular endothelial cadherin (VE-cad) leads to the disruption of endothelial adherens junctions and increases the transendothelial migration (TEM) of leukocytes.


VE-cad tyrosine phosphorylation, adherens junction integrity and TEM of monocytes in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) treated with high-concentration glucose were evaluated. The role of protein kinase C (PKC) in induction of endothelial cells adherence junction disruption by exposure of HUVECs to high concentration of glucose was explored.


The treatment of HUVEC with high-concentration glucose increased VE-cad tyrosine phosphorylation, whereas mannitol or 3-O-methyl-D-glucose had no effect. In addition, high-concentration glucose increased the dissociation of the VE-cad-beta-catenin complex, activation of the Wnt/beta-catenin pathway, and the TEM of monocytes. These alterations were accompanied by the activation of endothelial PKC and increased phosphorylation of ERK and myosin light chain (MLC). High-concentration glucose-induced tyrosine phosphorylation of VE-cad was attenuated by: 1- the inhibition of PKC-beta by overexpression of dominant-negative PKC-beta 2- inhibition of MLC phosphorylation by overexpression of a nonphosphorylatable dominant-negative form of MLC, 3- the inhibition of actin polymerization by cytochalasin D and 4- the treatment of HUVECs with forskolin (an activator of adenylate cyclase).


Our findings show that the high-concentration glucose-induced disruption of endothelial adherens junctions is mediated by tyrosine phosphorylation of VE-cad through PKC-beta and MLC phosphorylation.

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