Endogenous AJAP1 associates with the cytoskeleton and attenuates angiogenesis in endothelial cells

Biol Open. 2017 Jun 15;6(6):723-731. doi: 10.1242/bio.022335.


The adherens junction associated protein 1 (AJAP1, aka shrew-1) is presumably a type-I transmembrane protein localizing and interacting with the E-cadherin-catenin complex. In various tumors, AJAP1 expression is reduced or lost, including hepatocellular and esophageal squamous cell carcinoma, and glial-derived tumors. The aberrant expression of AJAP1 is associated with alterations in cell migration, invasion, increased tumor growth, and tumor vascularization, suggesting AJAP1 as a putative tumor suppressor. We show that AJAP1 attenuates sprouting angiogenesis by reducing endothelial migration and invasion capacities. Further, we show for the first time that endogenous AJAP1 is associated with the microtubule cytoskeleton. This linkage is independent from cell confluency and stable during angiogenic sprouting in vitro Our work suggests that AJAP1 is a putative negative regulator of angiogenesis, reducing cell migration and invasion by interfering with the microtubule network. Based on our results and those of other authors, we suggest AJAP1 as a novel tumor suppressor and diagnostic marker.

Keywords: AJAP1; Angiogenesis; Cell migration; Cytoskeleton; Endothelial cells; Microtubules; Shrew-1.