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Biological Chemistry

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Volume 397, Issue 5 (May 2016)


Biomechanical and biochemical regulation of cathepsin K expression in endothelial cells converge at AP-1 and NF-κB

Philip M. Keegan
  • The Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology/Emory University, 950 Atlantic Drive, Suite 3015, Atlanta, GA 30332, USA
/ Suhaas Anbazhakan
  • The Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology/Emory University, 950 Atlantic Drive, Suite 3015, Atlanta, GA 30332, USA
/ Baolin Kang
  • Department of Pediatrics, Georgia Regents University, Augusta, GA 30912, USA
/ Betty S. Pace
  • Department of Pediatrics, Georgia Regents University, Augusta, GA 30912, USA
/ Manu O. Platt
  • Corresponding author
  • The Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology/Emory University, 950 Atlantic Drive, Suite 3015, Atlanta, GA 30332, USA
  • Email:
Published Online: 2016-01-12 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/hsz-2015-0244


Cathepsins K and V are powerful elastases elevated in endothelial cells by tumor necrosis factor-α (TNFα) stimulation and disturbed blood flow both of which contribute to inflammation-mediated arterial remodeling. However, mechanisms behind endothelial cell integration of biochemical and biomechanical cues to regulate cathepsin production are not known. To distinguish these mechanisms, human aortic endothelial cells (HAECs) were stimulated with TNFα and exposed to pro-remodeling or vasoprotective shear stress profiles. TNFα upregulated cathepsin K via JNK/c-jun activation, but vasoprotective shear stress inhibited TNFα-stimulated cathepsin K expression. JNK/c-jun were still phosphorylated, but cathepsin K mRNA levels were significantly reduced to almost null indicating separate biomechanical regulation of cathepsin K by shear stress separate from biochemical stimulation. Treatment with Bay 11-7082, an inhibitor of IκBα phosphorylation, was sufficient to block induction of cathepsin K by both pro-remodeling shear stress and TNFα, implicating NF-κB as the biomechanical regulator, and its protein levels were reduced in HAECs by vasoprotective shear stress. In conclusion, NF-κB and AP-1 activation were necessary to activate cathepsin K expression in endothelial cells, highlighting integration of biochemical and biomechanical stimuli to control cathepsins K and V, powerful elastases implicated for arterial remodeling due to chronic inflammation and disturbed blood flow.

Keywords: proteases; shear stress; sickle cell disease; TNF-α


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About the article

Received: 2015-09-08

Accepted: 2016-01-04

Published Online: 2016-01-12

Published in Print: 2016-05-01

Funding Source: National Institutes of Health

Award identifier / Grant number: 1DP2OD007433-01

This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health [1DP2OD007433-01 to M.O.P] and also by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship to P.M.K.

Conflict of Interest statement: None declared.

Citation Information: Biological Chemistry, ISSN (Online) 1437-4315, ISSN (Print) 1431-6730, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/hsz-2015-0244. Export Citation

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