Abstract 1461: BLADE Is A Novel Membrane Protein That Regulates Endothelial Apoptosis and Consequently Angiogenesis Both In Vitro and In Vivo
Endothelial apoptosis is a pivotal process for angiogenesis during embryogenesis as well as postnatal. Here, we identified a novel gene, termed BLADE, that regulates endothelial apoptosis and consequently angiogenesis. BLADE was highly expressed in a variety of human cultured endothelial cells such as endothelial cells from umbilical vein (HUVEC), aorta, coronary artery and microvessels while no expression was observed in non-endothelial cells including HeLa cell, hepatoma cell and vascular smooth muscle cells. Furthermore, BLADE was expressed predominantly in blood vessels during embryogenesis, suggesting its role in angiogenesis. Amino acid sequence analysis revealed that BLADE was a novel membrane protein with no conserved domain reported before. BLADE expression was altered by treatment with VEGF, TNF-alpha and TGF-beta in HUVEC. Knockdown of BLADE in HUVEC using short interference RNA resulted in significant reduction of endothelial apoptosis. In contrast, BLADE knockdown affected neither endothelial cell migration nor proliferation. Among factors associated with apoptosis, Bcl-2 expression was drastically increased in HUVEC by BLADE-knockdown. Further analysis revealed that this increase of Bcl-2 is due to reduced ubiquitination and less subsequent degradation of Bcl-2. Inhibition of Bcl-2 completely abolished the anti-apoptotic effect of BLADE-knockdown. In vitro tube-formation of HUVEC on Matrigel was reduced concomitantly with reduced apoptosis by BLADE-knockdown at early time (12h). Nevertheless, significantly more tubes were preserved at late time (96h) by BLADE-knockdown. Moreover, in vivo angiogenesis assessed by Matrigel-plug was dramatically enhanced by BLADE-knockdown. Taken together, BLADE is a novel factor regulating endothelial apoptosis as well as angiogenesis both in vitro and in vivo. Detailed analysis of BLADE will provide new insights in the regulation of endothelial apoptosis, and in the molecular link between endothelial apoptosis and angiogenesis. Because BLADE is highly preferentially expressed in endothelial cells, inhibition of BLADE might be an ideal approach to enhance endothelial cell survival and angiogenesis without affecting the survival of other type of cells.