Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) may have a physiologic role in regulating vessel permeability and contributes to the pathophysiology of diabetic retinopathy as well as tumor development. We set out to ascertain the mechanism by which VEGF regulates paracellular permeability in rats. Intra-ocular injection of VEGF caused a post-translational modification of occludin as determined by a gel shift from 60 to 62 kDa. This event began by 15 min post-injection and was maximal by 45 min. Alkaline phosphatase treatment revealed this modification was caused by a change in occludin phosphorylation. In addition, the quantity of extracted occludin increased 2- fold in the same time frame. The phosphorylation and increased extraction of occludin was recapitulated in retinal endothelial cells in culture after VEGF stimulation. The data presented herein are the first demonstration of a change in the phosphorylation of this transmembrane protein under conditions of increased endothelial permeability. In addition, intraocular injection of VEGF also caused tyrosine phosphorylation of ZO-1 as early as 15 min and increased phosphorylation 4-fold after 90 min. In conclusion, VEGF rapidly increases occludin phosphorylation as well as the tyrosine phosphorylation of ZO-1. Phosphorylation of occludin and ZO-1 likely contribute to regulated endothelial paracellular permeability.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology