Molecular Regulation of Acute Tie2 Suppression in Sepsis


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Abstract

Objectives:Tie2 is a tyrosine kinase receptor expressed by endothelial cells that maintains vascular barrier function. We recently reported that diverse critical illnesses acutely decrease Tie2 expression and that experimental Tie2 reduction suffices to recapitulate cardinal features of the septic vasculature. Here we investigated molecular mechanisms driving Tie2 suppression in settings of critical illness.Design:Laboratory and animal research, postmortem kidney biopsies from acute kidney injury patients and serum from septic shock patients.Setting:Research laboratories and ICU of Hannover Medical School, Harvard Medical School, and University of Groningen.Patients:Deceased septic acute kidney injury patients (n = 16) and controls (n = 12) and septic shock patients (n = 57) and controls (n = 22).Interventions:Molecular biology assays (Western blot, quantitative polymerase chain reaction) + in vitro models of flow and transendothelial electrical resistance experiments in human umbilical vein endothelial cells; murine cecal ligation and puncture and lipopolysaccharide administration.Measurements and Main Results:We observed rapid reduction of both Tie2 messenger RNA and protein in mice following cecal ligation and puncture. In cultured endothelial cells exposed to tumor necrosis factor-α, suppression of Tie2 protein was more severe than Tie2 messenger RNA, suggesting distinct regulatory mechanisms. Evidence of protein-level regulation was found in tumor necrosis factor-α–treated endothelial cells, septic mice, and septic humans, all three of which displayed elevation of the soluble N-terminal fragment of Tie2. The matrix metalloprotease 14 was both necessary and sufficient for N-terminal Tie2 shedding. Since clinical settings of Tie2 suppression are often characterized by shock, we next investigated the effects of laminar flow on Tie2 expression. Compared with absence of flow, laminar flow induced both Tie2 messenger RNA and the expression of GATA binding protein 3. Conversely, septic lungs exhibited reduced GATA binding protein 3, and knockdown of GATA binding protein 3 in flow-exposed endothelial cells reduced Tie2 messenger RNA. Postmortem tissue from septic patients showed a trend toward reduced GATA binding protein 3 expression that was associated with Tie2 messenger RNA levels (p < 0.005).Conclusions:Tie2 suppression is a pivotal event in sepsis that may be regulated both by matrix metalloprotease 14–driven Tie2 protein cleavage and GATA binding protein 3–driven flow regulation of Tie2 transcript.

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