Mechanosensitive FHL2 tunes endothelial function

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Mechanosensitive FHL2 tunes endothelial function


Seetharaman, S.; Devany, J.; Kim, H. R.; van Bodegraven, E. J.; Chmiel, T.; Tzu-Pin, S.; Chou, W.-h.; Fang, Y.; Gardel, M.


Endothelial tissues are essential mechanosensors in the vasculature and facilitate adaptation to various blood flow-induced mechanical cues. Defects in endothelial mechanoresponses can perturb tissue remodelling and functions leading to cardiovascular disease progression. In this context, the precise mechanisms of endothelial mechanoresponses contributing to normal and diseased tissue functioning remain elusive. Here, we sought to uncover how flow-mediated transcriptional regulation drives endothelial mechanoresponses in healthy and atherosclerotic-prone tissues. Using bulk RNA sequencing, we identify novel mechanosensitive genes in response to healthy unidirectional flow (UF) and athero-prone disturbed flow (DF). We find that the transcription as well as protein expression of Four-and-a-half LIM protein 2 (FHL2) are enriched in athero-prone DF both in vitro and in vivo. We then demonstrate that the exogenous expression of FHL2 is necessary and sufficient to drive discontinuous adherens junction morphology and increased tissue permeability. This athero-prone phenotype requires the force-sensitive binding of FHL2 to actin. In turn, the force-dependent localisation of FHL2 to stress fibres promotes microtubule dynamics to release the RhoGEF, GEF-H1, and activate the Rho-ROCK pathway. Thus, we unravelled a novel mechanochemical feedback wherein force-dependent FHL2 localisation promotes hypercontractility. This misregulated mechanoresponse creates highly permeable tissues, depicting classic hallmarks of atherosclerosis progression. Overall, we highlight crucial functions for the FHL2 force-sensitivity in tuning multi-scale endothelial mechanoresponses.

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