Actin cytoskeleton in angiogenesis

Biology Open   | 29 NOVEMBER 2022 | doi:10.1242/bio.058899

Nidhi Yadunandanan Nair, Victor Samuel, Lariza Ramesh, Areeba Marib, Deena T. David and Ananthalakshmy Sundararaman*


Actin, one of the most abundant intracellular proteins in mammalian cells, is a critical regulator of cell shape and polarity, migration, cell division, and transcriptional response. Angiogenesis, or the formation of new blood vessels in the body is a well-coordinated multi-step process. Endothelial cells lining the blood vessels acquire several new properties such as front-rear polarity, invasiveness, rapid proliferation and motility during angiogenesis. This is achieved by changes in the regulation of the actin cytoskeleton. Actin remodelling underlies the switch between the quiescent and angiogenic state of the endothelium. Actin forms endothelium-specific structures that support uniquely endothelial functions. Actin regulators at endothelial cell-cell junctions maintain the integrity of the blood-tissue barrier while permitting trans-endothelial leukocyte migration. This review focuses on endothelial actin structures and less-recognised actin-mediated endothelial functions. Readers are referred to other recent reviews for the well-recognised roles of actin in endothelial motility, barrier functions and leukocyte transmigration. Actin generates forces that are transmitted to the extracellular matrix resulting in vascular matrix remodelling. In this review, we attempt to synthesize our current understanding of the roles of actin in vascular morphogenesis. We speculate on the vascular bed specific differences in endothelial actin regulation and its role in the vast heterogeneity in endothelial morphology and function across the various tissues of our body.


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