S-Endoglin Expression Is Induced in Senescent Endothelial Cells and Contributes to Vascular Pathology

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Abstract—Senescence of endothelial cells (ECs) may contribute to age-associated cardiovascular diseases, including atherosclerosis and hypertension. The functional and gene expression changes associated with cellular senescence are poorly understood. Here, we have analyzed the expression, during EC senescence, of 2 different isoforms (L, long; S, short) of endoglin, an auxiliary transforming growth factor (TGF)-β receptor involved in vascular remodeling and angiogenesis. As evidenced by RT-PCR, the S/L ratio of endoglin isoforms was increased during senescence of human ECs in vitro, as well as during aging of mice in vascularized tissues. Next, the effect of S-endoglin protein on the TGF-β receptor complex was studied. As revealed by coimmunoprecipitation assays, S-endoglin was able to interact with both TGF-β type I receptors, ALK5 and ALK1, although the interaction with ALK5 was stronger than with ALK1. S-endoglin conferred a lower proliferation rate to ECs and behaved differently from L-endoglin in relation to TGF-β–responsive reporters with ALK1 or ALK5 specificities, mimicking the behavior of the endothelial senescence markers Id1 and plasminogen activator inhibitor-1. In situ hybridization studies demonstrated the expression of S-endoglin in the endothelium from human arteries. Transgenic mice overexpressing S-endoglin in ECs showed hypertension, decreased hypertensive response to NO inhibition, decreased vasodilatory response to TGF-β1 administration, and decreased endothelial nitric oxide synthase expression in lungs and kidneys, supporting the involvement of S-endoglin in the NO-dependent vascular homeostasis. Taken together, these results suggest that S-endoglin is induced during endothelial senescence and may contribute to age-dependent vascular pathology.

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