Frizzled7 controls vascular permeability through the Wnt-canonical pathway and cross-talk with endothelial cell junction complexes

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Vascular permeability is essential for the health of normal tissues and is an important characteristic of many disease states. The role of the Wnt/frizzled pathway in vascular biology has recently been reported. The objectives of this study are to analyse the role of Frizzled7 (Fzd7) receptor in the control of vascular integrity.

Methods and results

Fzd7 is expressed in endothelial cells and accumulates at the points of cell–cell contact in association with VE-cadherin and β-catenin, two major adherens junction molecules. To selectively delete fzd7 in the vasculature, we developed gene targeting approaches using CreLox strategy in mice. Genetic fzd7 inhibition in the endothelium increases vascular permeability in basal and factor-induced conditions. On the cellular level, fzd7 knockdown or depletion leads to an increase in paracellular permeability with a loss of adherens junction organization. These impairments are associated with a decrease in both VE-Cadherin and β-catenin expression, a decrease in their association and an increase of tyrosine phosphorylation of VE-cadherin/β-catenin. Fzd7 transduces a Wnt/β-catenin signalling cascade that is required to regulate β-catenin and canonical target gene expression. Finally, LiCl, a GSK3 inhibitor, and β-catenin overexpression rescued endothelial integrity and adherens junction organization, induced by fzd7 deletion.


These findings establish that Fzd7 is a new partner of adherens junctional complex and represents a novel molecular switch for the control of vascular permeability via activation of the Wnt-canonical pathway.

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