Tuning the endothelial response: differential release of exocytic cargos from Weibel-Palade bodies

J Thromb Haemost. 2018 Sep;16(9):1873-1886. doi: 10.1111/jth.14218. Epub 2018 Aug 12.


Essentials Endothelial activation initiates multiple processes, including hemostasis and inflammation. The molecules that contribute to these processes are co-stored in secretory granules. How can the cells control release of granule content to allow differentiated responses? Selected agonists recruit an exocytosis-linked actin ring to boost release of a subset of cargo.

Summary: Background Endothelial cells harbor specialized storage organelles, Weibel-Palade bodies (WPBs). Exocytosis of WPB content into the vascular lumen initiates primary hemostasis, mediated by von Willebrand factor (VWF), and inflammation, mediated by several proteins including P-selectin. During full fusion, secretion of this large hemostatic protein and smaller pro-inflammatory proteins are thought to be inextricably linked. Objective To determine if secretagogue-dependent differential release of WPB cargo occurs, and whether this is mediated by the formation of an actomyosin ring during exocytosis. Methods We used VWF string analysis, leukocyte rolling assays, ELISA, spinning disk confocal microscopy, high-throughput confocal microscopy and inhibitor and siRNA treatments to demonstrate the existence of cellular machinery that allows differential release of WPB cargo proteins. Results Inhibition of the actomyosin ring differentially effects two processes regulated by WPB exocytosis; it perturbs VWF string formation but has no effect on leukocyte rolling. The efficiency of ring recruitment correlates with VWF release; the ratio of release of VWF to small cargoes decreases when ring recruitment is inhibited. The recruitment of the actin ring is time dependent (fusion events occurring directly after stimulation are less likely to initiate hemostasis than later events) and is activated by protein kinase C (PKC) isoforms. Conclusions Secretagogues differentially recruit the actomyosin ring, thus demonstrating one mechanism by which the prothrombotic effect of endothelial activation can be modulated. This potentially limits thrombosis whilst permitting a normal inflammatory response. These results have implications for the assessment of WPB fusion, cargo-content release and the treatment of patients with von Willebrand disease.

Keywords: Weibel-Palade bodies; exocytosis; hemostasis; inflammation; von Willebrand factor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 1-Methyl-3-isobutylxanthine / pharmacology
  • Actomyosin / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Actomyosin / chemistry
  • Actomyosin / physiology*
  • Cytochalasins / pharmacology
  • Endothelial Cells / drug effects
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism*
  • Epinephrine / pharmacology
  • Exocytosis / drug effects*
  • Hemostasis / physiology*
  • Heterocyclic Compounds, 4 or More Rings / pharmacology
  • Histamine / pharmacology
  • Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / physiopathology*
  • Leukocyte Rolling / physiology
  • P-Selectin / genetics
  • P-Selectin / physiology
  • Protein Conformation
  • RNA Interference
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics
  • RNA, Small Interfering / pharmacology
  • Tetradecanoylphorbol Acetate / pharmacology
  • Weibel-Palade Bodies / drug effects
  • Weibel-Palade Bodies / metabolism*
  • von Willebrand Factor / physiology


  • Cytochalasins
  • Heterocyclic Compounds, 4 or More Rings
  • P-Selectin
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • von Willebrand Factor
  • blebbistatin
  • cytochalasin E
  • Histamine
  • Actomyosin
  • Tetradecanoylphorbol Acetate
  • 1-Methyl-3-isobutylxanthine
  • Epinephrine