The monolayer of endothelial cells lining the vessel wall forms a semipermeable barrier (in all tissue except the relatively impermeable blood-brain and inner retinal barriers) that regulates tissue-fluid homeostasis, transport of nutrients, and migration of blood cells across the barrier. Permeability of the endothelial barrier is primarily regulated by a protein complex called adherens junctions. Adherens junctions are not static structures; they are continuously remodeled in response to mechanical and chemical cues in both physiological and pathological settings. Here, we discuss recent insights into the post-translational modifications of junctional proteins and signaling pathways regulating plasticity of adherens junctions and endothelial permeability. We also discuss in the context of what is already known and newly defined signaling pathways that mediate endothelial barrier leakiness (hyperpermeability) that are important in the pathogenesis of cardiovascular and lung diseases and vascular inflammation.
Keywords: adherens junctions; blood cells; endothelial cells; lung diseases; signal transduction.
© 2017 American Heart Association, Inc.