Endoglin (ENG) is a transmembrane glycoprotein expressed on endothelial cells that functions as a co-receptor for several ligands of the transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β) family. ENG is also a recognized marker of angiogenesis and mutations in the endoglin gene are responsible for Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia (HHT) type 1, a vascular disease characterized by defective angiogenesis, arteriovenous malformations, telangiectasia, and epistaxis. In addition to its involvement in the TGF-β family signaling pathways, several lines of evidence suggest that the extracellular domain of ENG has a role in integrin-mediated cell adhesion via its RGD motif. Indeed, we have described a role for endothelial ENG in leukocyte trafficking and extravasation via its binding to leukocyte integrins. We have also found that ENG is involved in vasculogenic properties of endothelial progenitor cells known as endothelial colony forming cells (ECFCs). Moreover, the binding of endothelial ENG to platelet integrins regulate the resistance to shear during platelet-endothelium interactions under inflammatory conditions. Because of the need for more effective treatments in HHT and the involvement of ENG in angiogenesis, current studies are aimed at identifying novel biological functions of ENG which could serve as a therapeutic target. This review focuses on the interaction between ENG and integrins with the aim to better understand the role of this protein in blood vessel formation driven by progenitor and mature endothelial cells.
Keywords: ECFCs; EPC; HHT1; TGF-β; endoglin; endothelial progenitors; integrins.