Using suppression subtractive hybridisation (SSH), we identified a hitherto unreported gene PHACTR-1 (Phosphatase Actin Regulating Protein-1) in Human Umbilical Vascular Endothelial Cells (HUVECs). PHACTR-1 is an actin and protein phosphatase 1 (PP1) binding protein which is reported to be highly expressed in brain and which controls PP1 activity and F-actin remodelling. We have also reported that its expression is dependent of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF-A(165)). To study its function in endothelial cells, we used a siRNA strategy against PHACTR-1. PHACTR-1 siRNA-treated HUVECs showed a major impairment of tube formation and stabilisation. PHACTR-1 depletion triggered apoptosis through death receptors DR4, DR5 and FAS, which was reversed using death receptor siRNAs or with death receptor-dependent caspase-8 siRNA. Our findings suggest that PHACTR-1 is likely to be a key regulator of endothelial cell function properties. Because of its central role in the control of tube formation and endothelial cell survival, PHACTR-1 may represent a new target for the development of anti-angiogenic therapy.
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