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A CTGF-YAP regulatory pathway is essential for angiogenesis and barriergenesis in the retina

By Sohyun Moon, Sangmi Lee, JoyAnn Caesar, Sarah Pruchenko, Andew Leask, James A Knowles, Jose Sinon, Brahim Chaqour

Posted 18 Mar 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.03.16.994293 (published DOI: 10.1016/j.isci.2020.101184)

Connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) or CCN2 is a matricellular protein essential for normal embryonic development and tissue repair. CTGF exhibits cell- and context-dependent activities, but the CTGF function in vascular development and permeability barrier is not known. Here we show that endothelial cells (ECs) are one of the major cellular sources of CTGF in the developing and adult retinal vasculature. Mice lacking CTGF expression either globally or specifically in ECs exhibit impaired vascular cell growth and morphogenesis, and blood barrier breakdown. The global molecular signature of CTGF includes cytoskeletal and extracellular matrix protein, growth factor, and transcriptional co-regulator genes such as yes-associated protein (YAP). YAP, itself a transcriptional activator of the CTGF gene, mediates several CTGF-controlled angiogenic and barriergenic transcriptional programs. Re-expression of YAP rescues, at least partially, angiogenesis and barriergenesis in CTGF mutant mouse retinas. Thus, the CTGF-YAP angiomodulatory pathway is critical for vascular development and barrier function.

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