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Evidences accumulated within the past decades identified hedgehog signaling as a new regulator of endothelium integrity. More specifically, we recently identified Dhh (desert hedgehog) as a downstream effector of Klf2 (Kruppel-like factor 2) in endothelial cells (ECs). The purpose of this study is to investigate whether hedgehog coreceptors Gas1 (growth arrest-specific 1) and Cdon (cell adhesion molecule-related/downregulated by oncogenes) may be used as therapeutic targets to modulate Dhh signaling in ECs. Approach and Results: We demonstrated that both Gas1 and Cdon are expressed in adult ECs and relied on either siRNAs- or EC-specific conditional knockout mice to investigate their role. We found that Gas1 deficiency mainly phenocopies Dhh deficiency especially by inducing VCAM-1 (vascular cell adhesion molecule 1) and ICAM-1 (intercellular adhesion molecule 1) overexpression while Cdon deficiency has opposite effects by promoting endothelial junction integrity. At a molecular level, Cdon prevents Dhh binding to Ptch1 (patched-1) and thus acts as a decoy receptor for Dhh, while Gas1 promotes Dhh binding to Smo (smoothened) and as a result potentiates Dhh effects. Since Cdon is upregulated in ECs treated by inflammatory cytokines, including TNF (tumor necrosis factor)-α and Il (interleukin)-1β, we then tested whether Cdon inhibition would promote endothelium integrity in acute inflammatory conditions and found that both fibrinogen and IgG extravasation were decreased in association with an increased Cdh5 (cadherin-5) expression in the brain cortex of EC-specific Cdon knockout mice administered locally with Il-1β. Altogether, these results demonstrate that Gas1 is a positive regulator of Dhh in ECs while Cdon is a negative regulator. Interestingly, Cdon blocking molecules may then be used to promote endothelium integrity, at least in inflammatory conditions.


Candice Chapouly, Pierre-Louis Hollier, Sarah Guimbal, Lauriane Cornuault, Alain-Pierre Gadeau, Marie-Ange Renault. Desert Hedgehog-Driven Endothelium Integrity Is Enhanced by Gas1 (Growth Arrest-Specific 1) but Negatively Regulated by Cdon (Cell Adhesion Molecule-Related/Downregulated by Oncogenes). Arteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology. 2020 Dec;40(12):e336-e349

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PMID: 33028094

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