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We previously reported microvascular leakage resulting from fibrinogen-γ chain C-terminal products (γC) occurred via a RhoA-dependent mechanism. The objective of this study was to further elucidate the signaling mechanism by which γC induces endothelial hyperpermeability. Since it is known that γC binds and activates endothelial αvβ3, a transmembrane integrin receptor involved in intracellular signaling mediated by the tyrosine kinases FAK and Src, we hypothesized that γC alters endothelial barrier function by activating the FAK-Src pathway leading to junction dissociation and RhoA driven cytoskeletal stress-fiber formation.

Methods and results

Using intravital microscopy of rat mesenteric microvessels, we show increased extravasation of plasma protein (albumin) resulting from γC administration. In addition, capillary fluid filtration coefficient (Kfc) indicated γC-induced elevated lung vascular permeability. Furthermore, γC decreased transendothelial barrier resistance in a time-dependent and dose-related fashion in cultured rat lung microvascular endothelial cells (RLMVECs), accompanied by increased FAK/Src phosphorylation detection by western blot. Experiments with pharmacological inhibition or gene silencing of FAK showed significantly reduced γC-induced albumin and fluid leakage across microvessels, stress-fiber formation, VE-cadherin tyrosine phosphorylation, and improved γC-induced endothelial barrier dysfunction, indicating the involvement of FAK in γC mediated hyperpermeability. Comparable results were found when Src was targeted in a similar manner, however inhibition of FAK prevented Src activation, suggesting that FAK is upstream of Src in γC-mediated hyperpermeability. In addition, γC-induced cytoskeletal stress-fiber formation was attenuated during inhibition or silencing of these tyrosine kinases, concomitantly with RhoA inhibition.


The FAK-Src pathway contributes to γC-induced microvascular barrier dysfunction, junction protein phosphorylation and disorganization in a manner that involves RhoA and stress-fiber formation.


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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.