R-Ras is a Ras family small GTPase that is highly expressed in mature functional blood vessels in normal tissues. It inhibits pathological angiogenesis and promotes vessel maturation and stabilization. Previous studies suggest that R-Ras affects cellular signaling in endothelial cells, pericytes and smooth-muscle cells to regulate vessel formation and remodeling in adult tissues. R-Ras suppresses VEGF-induced endothelial permeability and vessel sprouting while promoting normalization of pathologically developing vessels in mice. It attenuates VEGF receptor-2 (VEGFR2) activation by inhibiting internalization of the receptor upon VEGF ligand binding, leading to significant reduction of VEGFR2 autophosphorylation. Here, we show that R-Ras strongly suppresses the VEGF-dependent activation of stress-activated protein kinase-2/p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (SAPK2/p38MAPK) and the phosphorylation of downstream heat-shock protein 27 (HSP27), a regulator of actin cytoskeleton organization, in endothelial cells. The suppression of p38MAPK activation and HSP27 phosphorylation by R-Ras concurred with altered actin cytoskeleton architecture, reduced membrane protrusion and inhibition of endothelial cell migration toward VEGF. Silencing of endogenous R-Ras by RNA interference increased membrane protrusion and cell migration stimulated by VEGF, and these effects were offset by p38MAPK inhibitor SB203580. These results suggest that R-Ras regulates angiogenic activities of endothelial cells in part via inhibition of the p38MAPK-HSP27 axis of VEGF signaling.
- Endothelial cells
- VEGF signaling
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine