Hypoxia stimulates angiogenesis during development, as well as in the course of ischemic cardiovascular diseases and tumor growth. In a hypoxic environment, endothelial cells (EC) are key players of the angiogenic response. Their activation leads to remodeling of the extracellular matrix (ECM): a degradation step generates a provisional ECM supporting EC proliferation and migration; assembly of a new basal lamina leads to pericyte recruitment and neovessel maturation.
In order to identify endothelial ECM proteins regulated by hypoxia, 2D gel electrophoresis was performed on ECM samples prepared from cultured EC of micro or large vessels (HDMEC or HUVEC respectively). Mass spectrometry identified lysyl oxidase-like protein 2 (LOXL2) as a highly hypoxia-induced protein. Lysyl oxidases are secreted enzymes involved in ECM maturation through covalent cross-linking of its major components, collagens and elastin. The induction of LOXL2 expression was detected both at the mRNA and protein levels. Using siRNA, we demonstrated that LOXL2 is responsible for 65 % of lysyl oxidase total activity in hypoxic EC. In addition, LOXL2 protein was colocalised with type IV collagen in endothelial ECM.
We further investigated the expression of LOXL2 in vivo. The enzyme was expressed in rat EC from retina during postnatal vascular development, and from adult skeletal muscle. In a murine model of hindlimb ischemia, LOXL2 was upregulated at the protein and mRNA levels. In situ hybridization revealed its expression in both EC and macrophages.
Involvement of LOXL2 at different steps of the angiogenic process was further studied in vitro. We demonstrated that LOXL2 increases EC migration on fibronectin, as well as migration and tube formation in fibrin 3D gels. In addition, LOXL2 knock-down inhibited type IV collagen deposition in the ECM, suggesting a major role for LOXL2 in the organisation of endothelial basal lamina. Finally, whereas the efficiency of endothelial ECM for recruiting VSMC was increased by hypoxia, this effect was reduced upon knocking down endothelial LOXL2 expression. Altogether, these data suggest that LOXL2 plays a major role in EC migration, vascular basal lamina deposition and neovessel stabilisation during hypoxia-induced angiogenesis.Le texte complet de cet article est disponible en PDF.