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Molecular vision

Src tyrosine kinase regulates the stem cell factor-induced breakdown of the blood-retinal barrier.


PMID 27746675

Abstract

Stem cell factor (SCF) has been recently acknowledged as a novel endothelial permeability factor. However, the mechanisms by which SCF-induced activation of the SCF cognate receptor, cKit, enhances endothelial permeability have not been fully elucidated. This study aimed to investigate the role of Src in SCF-induced breakdown of the blood-retinal barrier (BRB). In vitro endothelial permeability and in vivo retinal vascular permeability assays were performed to investigate the role of Src in SCF-induced breakdown of the BRB. Immunofluorescence staining experiments were performed to analyze the cellular distribution of phosphorylated Src and vascular endothelial (VE)-cadherin. SCF markedly reduced electric resistance across the human retinal vascular endothelial monolayer in vitro and enhanced extravasation of dyes in murine retinal vasculature in vivo. Inhibition of cKit activation using cKit mutant mice and chemical inhibitor substantially diminished the ability of SCF to increase endothelial permeability and retinal vascular leakage. In human retinal vascular endothelial cells, SCF induced strong phosphorylation of Src and distinct localization of phosphorylated Src in the plasma membrane. Inhibition of Src activation using chemical inhibitors abolished the SCF-induced hyperpermeability of human retinal vascular endothelial cells and retinal vascular leakage in mice. In addition, treatment with Src inhibitors restored junctional expression of VE-cadherin that disappeared in SCF-treated retinal endothelial cells and retinal vasculature. These results showed the important role of Src in mediating SCF-induced breakdown of the BRB and retinal vascular leakage. Given that increased retinal vascular permeability is a common manifestation of various ocular diseases, the SCF/cKit/Src signaling pathway may be involved in the development of the hyperpermeable retinal vasculature in many ocular disorders.

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