Formation of blood-carrying channels at the heart of blood vessels (lumen formation or 'tubulogenesis') is one of the most critical steps during cardiovascular development. To date, the molecular mechanisms underlying this process remain unclear. Understanding and ultimately controlling blood vessel growth are key goals of many clinical approaches, ranging from blocking vessels in tumor angiogenesis to promoting vessels in wound healing. Transcriptional profiling of embryonic endothelial cells (ECs) was carried out to discover factors that regulate blod vesel formation, and identified a GTPase-interacting protein called Rasip1. Rasip1 was found to be expressed specificaly in embryonic ECs, and ablation of Rasip1 in mice blocks embryonic vascular tubulogenesis and blood vessel formation. We showed those Rasip1 complexes with small GTPases and their effectors, to promote Cdc42 and Rac1, and suppress RhoA. Key defects in Rasip1-/- cords (E8.0-8.5) include: loss of angioblast cell polarity and of proper localization of the polarity determinant Par3, as well as disruption of 1integrin-mediated adhesion to ECM and of the cytoskeleton. The main hypothesis is that Rasip1 regulates distinct downstream GTPase signaling pathways, such as Rho, Rac and Cdc42, which regulate distinct cellular processes that coordinate to drive vascular tubulogenesis. This proposal asks how Rasip1-mediated cell polarity, contractility and adhesion influence endothelial tubulogenesis, and dissects pathways downstream of Rasip1 using mouse genetics, in vitro models and biochemistry. For analysis of mouse mutants, simple parameters will be assessed to study lumen formation in E8.0-8.5 mouse dorsal aortae (angioblast morphology and organization, as well as polarity and adhesion markers).
Specific aims are: 1. To examine role of Rasip1-dependent cell polarity and mechanisms of apical/luminal membrane formation during vascular lumen formation (Par3 and Crb3). 2. To identify the cellular outcomes of the different Rasip1-regulated GTPase signaling pathways, Rho, Rac1 and Cdc42, during vascular lumen formation, and assess which pathways can rescue or exacerbate the Rasip1 null lumen failure. 3. To elucidate mechanism of Rasip1-dependent lumen formation via identification of lumen formation 'signaling complex'components. The short-term objective of these studies is to elucidate Rasip1 regulated pathways and further our understanding of cardiovascular development. The long-term objective is to find new molecular targets to block blood vessel growth in disease, such as in growing tumors, by blocking lumen formation. !

Public Health Relevance

Blood vessel growth and function depend on the formation of blood-carrying channels at their core, via a process called 'lumen formation'or 'tubulogenesis'. Here, we investigate a molecule, Rasip1, and its regulation of the activity of small molecular switches called GTPases that control endothelial cell shape and organization during vascular tubulogenesis. The ultimate goal is to find new molecular targets to block blood vessel growth in disease, such as in growing tumors, by blocking lumen formation. !

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
Research Project (R01)
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Cardiovascular Differentiation and Development Study Section (CDD)
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Schramm, Charlene A
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University of Texas Sw Medical Center Dallas
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United States
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