Central nervous system (CNS) blood vessels contain a functional blood-brain barrier (BBB) that is necessary for neuronal survival and activity. Although Wnt/β-catenin signaling is essential for BBB development, its downstream targets within the neurovasculature remain poorly understood. To identify targets of Wnt/β-catenin signaling underlying BBB maturation, we performed a microarray analysis that identified Fgfbp1 as a novel Wnt/β-catenin-regulated gene in mouse brain endothelial cells (mBECs). Fgfbp1 is expressed in the CNS endothelium and secreted into the vascular basement membrane during BBB formation. Endothelial genetic ablation of Fgfbp1 results in transient hypervascularization but delays BBB maturation in specific CNS regions, as evidenced by both upregulation of Plvap and increased tracer leakage across the neurovasculature due to reduced Wnt/β-catenin activity. In addition, collagen IV deposition in the vascular basement membrane is reduced in mutant mice, leading to defective endothelial cell-pericyte interactions. Fgfbp1 is required cell-autonomously in mBECs to concentrate Wnt ligands near cell junctions and promote maturation of their barrier properties in vitro Thus, Fgfbp1 is a crucial extracellular matrix protein during BBB maturation that regulates cell-cell interactions and Wnt/β-catenin activity.
Keywords: Basement membrane; Blood-brain barrier; Collagen IV; Fgfbp1; Wnt/β-catenin signaling.
© 2020. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.