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Quantifying endothelial junction dynamics

DISCOVERIES (ISSN 2359-7232), 2016, July-September issue


Seebach J, Cao J, Schnittler HJ. Quantitative dynamics of VE-cadherin at endothelial cell junctions at a glance: basic requirements and current concepts. Discoveries 2016, Jul-Sep; 4(3): e63. DOI: 10.15190/d.2016.10

Submitted: June 28, 2016; Revised: August 18, 2016; Accepted: August 19, 2016; Published: August 24, 2016;

 GO BACK to 2016, July-September issue


Quantitative dynamics of VE-cadherin at endothelial cell junctions at a glance: basic requirements and current concepts

Jochen Seebach, Jiahui Cao, Hans Joachim Schnittler (*)

Institute of Anatomy and Vascular Biology, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Münster Germany; 

*Correspondence to: Hans Joachim Schnittler, MD, Managing Director, Institute of Anatomy and Vascular Biology, Vesaliusweg 2-448149 Münster, Germany; Email: hans.schnittler@uni-muenster.de ; Phone: +49 (251) 83 52372; Fax: +49 (251) 83 55241


     Intercellular junctions of the vascular endothelium are dynamic structures that display a high degree of plasticity, which is required to contribute to their regulation of many physiological and pathological processes including monolayer integrity, barrier function, wound healing and angiogenesis. Vascular endothelial cadherin (VE-cadherin) is connected via catenins to the actin cytoskeleton, both of which are key structures in endothelial junction regulation, and thus are the focus of much investigation. Fluorescence-based live cell imaging is the method of choice to study dynamic remodeling in living cells. Although these methods have been successfully applied to many cell types, investigations of endothelial junction dynamics were for a long time limited as they are largely resistant to transfection using many classical protocols. Application of virus-based gene transduction techniques, together with advanced microscopy, now allows both sufficient expression of fluorescence tagged junction-localized proteins in the endothelium and time-lapse recording over long periods. Using highly spatiotemporally resolved fluorescence microscopy it turned out that endothelial junctions display extensive junction heterogeneity at the subcellular level; a fact that largely limits automated quantification by available software. Recent work describes open software tools to quantitatively analyze large amounts of fluorescence-based image data in either single or confluent epithelial and endothelial cells. Based on quantitative VE-cadherin and actin dynamics novel key players, mechanisms and concepts have been suggested that control endothelial junction dynamics. Here we aim to summarize the recent developments in the field.

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