Abstract 3944: Converged Signaling of β-Catenin and Notch Induces Differentiation of Arterial Endothelial Cells from VEGFR2+ Vascular Progenitors
We have been investigating molecular mechanisms of vascular development and diversification using embryonic stem (ES) cells. Previously, we established an ES cell differentiation system that reproduces early vascular development using vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) receptor-2 (VEGFR2)-positive cells as common vascular progenitors (Nature, 2000). Endothelial cells (ECs) were induced from VEGFR2+ progenitor cells with VEGF. VEGF alone mainly induced venous ECs, which are negative for arterial EC markers, ephrinB2 and CXCR4. Interestingly, addition of 8bromo-cAMP with VEGF activated Notch signaling in ECs and substantially induced arterial ECs. Nevertheless, activation of Notch using notch intracellular domain (NICD)-estrogen receptor fusion protein failed to induce arterial ECs (Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol, 2006). These results indicate that Notch activation was not sufficient to induce arterial ECs from vascular progenitors. Then we further investigated the downstream of cAMP, which would suffice signals for constructive induction of arterial ECs. We found that phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase (PI3K) inhibitor, LY294002, completely inhibited cAMP-induced arterial EC differentiation as well as Notch activation. GSK3β inhibitor, Bio, partially reversed the inhibitory effects of LY294002. Whereas activation of β-catenin signaling alone using Doxycycline-induced constitutive active form of β-catenin expression showed only a weak effect on arterial EC induction, simultaneous activation of β-catenin and Notch signaling completely restored arterial EC induction even in the absence of cAMP. Thus, cAMP-PI3K-GSK3β-β-catenin pathway plays a critical role in arterial EC differentiation. Furthermore, chromatin immunoprecipitation assay on the two RBP-J binding sites of mouse EphrinB2 revealed that RBP-J, NICD, and β-catenin formed a protein complex on these two sites only in arterial ECs, but not in venous ECs. These findings suggest that Notch and β-catenin signaling converged to form a novel arterial EC-specific protein complex to induce arterial ECs. This study would provide novel understandings of cellular and molecular mechanisms for arterial-venous specification and novel molecular targets for drug discovery.