Annexins A2 and A8 in endothelial cell exocytosis and the control of vascular homeostasis

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Blood vessel homeostasis is controlled by a variety of regulatory circuits that involve both the vessel-lining endothelial cells as well as the circulating blood cells and products thereof. One important feature is the control exerted by endothelial cells through regulated exocytosis of factors affecting blood coagulation and local inflammatory processes. These factors include two important adhesion proteins: the leukocyte receptor P-selectin and the pro-coagulant von Willebrand factor (VWF) that binds platelets and is involved in the formation of a platelet plug at sites of blood vessel injury. Failure to correctly produce and secrete P-selectin and VWF leads to pathologies such as von Willebrand disease, the most common inherited bleeding disorder. P-selectin and VWF are stored in unique secretory granules, the Weibel-Palade bodies (WPB), that undergo a complex maturation process and are acutely secreted following endothelial stimulation, e.g. in the course of inflammation or following blood vessel injury. Two annexins have been shown to be involved in different aspects of WPB biology: annexin A8 is required for proper WPB maturation and annexin A2 participates in late steps of WPB exocytosis. Thus, by affecting the stimulated release of P-selectin and VWF from endothelial cells, annexins fulfil important functions in the control of vascular homeostasis and could be considered as targets for influencing P-selectin- and VWF-dependent processes/pathologies.

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