Role of Intercellular Junctions in Redistribution of Focal Adhesions and Orientation of Vascular Endothelial Cells Exposed to Cyclic Stretching

  • Wenjing HuangEmail author
  • Naoya Sakamoto
  • Kazuhiko Hanamura
  • Ryotaro Miyazawa
  • Masaaki Sato


The redistribution of focal adhesions (FAs) containing integrin β1 and paxillin plays an important role in the cyclic stretching-induced morphological changes of endothelial cells (ECs). In addition to focal adhesion kinase (FAK), known to be a primary regulator for FA redistribution, intercellular junctions (IJs) have recently been reported to be involved in signaling upstream of FAs. Here, we addressed the role of IJs in the morphological changes and redistribution of FAs in ECs exposed to cyclic stretching. Both confluent and sparse ECs were oriented nearly perpendicularly to the stretch direction after 10 min of exposure. Orientation of sparse ECs, but not confluent ECs, was suppressed by treatment with a phospho-FAK inhibitor. FAK inhibitor blocked integrin β1 redistribution in ECs, which was observed in non-inhibited cells after 10-min stretch exposure. However, paxillin redistribution in confluent ECs was observed regardless of FAK inhibitor treatment after 2-min stretch exposure. When we blocked signals from IJs with an inhibitor of Src homology 2 domain-containing tyrosine phosphatase-2, the percentage of oriented ECs decreased and paxillin redistribution, but not integrin β1, was suppressed. These findings suggest that IJs are involved in the orientation of ECs subjected to cyclic stretching through signaling pathways other than FAK.


Cyclic stretching Endothelial cells Focal adhesions Intercellular junctions Cell orientation 



The authors would like to thank Drs. Ikuo Takahashi and Makoto Takahashi for kindly providing human umbilical cords with the donors’ informed consent. The present study was supported in part by the Tohoku University Global COE Program “Global Nano-Biomedical Engineering Education and Research Network Centre”, and a Grant-in-Aid for Specially Promoted Research (No. 20001007) from Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT).

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Copyright information

© Biomedical Engineering Society 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wenjing Huang
    • 1
    Email author
  • Naoya Sakamoto
    • 2
  • Kazuhiko Hanamura
    • 2
    • 3
  • Ryotaro Miyazawa
    • 4
  • Masaaki Sato
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Biomedical EngineeringGraduate School of Biomedical Engineering, Tohoku UniversitySendaiJapan
  2. 2.Department of Bioengineering and RoboticsGraduate School of Engineering, Tohoku UniversitySendaiJapan
  3. 3.Meiji Seika, Ltd.TokyoJapan
  4. 4.Department of Mechanical and Aerospace EngineeringSchool of Engineering, Tohoku UniversitySendaiJapan

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