Role of cell surface heparan sulfate proteoglycans in endothelial cell migration and mechanotransduction

James J. Moon, Melissa Matsumoto, Shyam Patel, Luke Lee, Jun Lin Guan, Song Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

111 Scopus citations


Endothelial cell (EC) migration is critical in wound healing and angiogenesis. Fluid shear stress due to blood flow plays an important role in EC migration. However, the role of EC surface heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPGs) in EC adhesion, migration, and mechanotransduction is not well understood. Here, we investigated the effects of HSPG disruption on the adhesion, migration, and mechanotransduction of ECs cultured on fibronectin. We showed that disruption of HSPGs with heparinase decreased EC adhesion rate by 40% and adhesion strength by 33%. At the molecular level, HSPG disruption decreased stress fibers and the size of focal adhesions (FAs), increased filopodia formation, and enhanced EC migration. Under flow condition, heparinase treatment increased EC migration speed, but inhibited shear stress-induced directionality of EC migration and the recruitment of phosphorylated focal adhesion kinase in the flow direction, suggesting that HSPGs are important for sensing the direction of shear stress. In addition, decreasing cell adhesion by lowering fibronectin density enhanced EC migration under static and flow condition, but did not affect the directional migration of ECs under flow. Based on our results, we propose that HSPGs play dual roles as mechanotransducer on the EC surface: (1) HSPGs-matrix interaction on the abluminal surface regulates EC migration speed through an adhesion-dependent manner, and (2) HSPGs without binding to matrix (e.g., on the luminal surface) are involved in sensing the direction of flow through an adhesion-independent manner.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)166-176
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Cellular Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2005


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