The importance of macroautophagy (hereafter referred to as autophagy) in vascular endothelial cell (VEC) biology and dysfunction is increasingly recognized, but the molecular mechanisms of autophagy in VECs in the presence of serum are still poorly understood. Previously, we identified pterostilbene as a potent autophagy inducer of VECs in the presence of serum. In this study, we used pterostilbene as a tool to induce VEC autophagy and identified the differentially expressed genes using high-throughput DAN microarray. The small GTPase Ras-related protein in brain 13 (Rab13) was found to be the most significantly up-regulated gene in pterostilbene-treated human umbilical VECs (HUVECs). Knockdown of Rab13 blocked pterostilbene-induced mTOR inhibition and autophagy, whereas overexpression of the GTP-containing active form of Rab13 induced mTOR inhibition and autophagy in HUVECs. Using a combination of immunofluorescence and co-immunoprecipitation (co-IP) assays, we demonstrated that pterostilbene or up-regulation of the active form of Rab13 promoted the interaction between Rab13 and growth factor receptor-bound protein 2 (Grb2). Knockdown of Grb2 suppressed pterostilbene or up-regulation of the active form of Rab13-induced autophagy. Further mechanistic studies revealed that Rab13 activated the downstream AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and blocked mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling by its functional interaction with Grb2 to regulate autophagy in HUVECs. Our study firmly establishes Rab13 as a novel regulator of autophagy in VECs under nutrient-enriched conditions.
Zhang, L., Dai, F., Cui, L. Q., Zhou, B., & Guo, Y. Q. (2017). Up-regulation of the active form of small GTPase Rab13 promotes macroautophagy in vascular endothelial cells. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular Cell Research, 1864(4), 613–624. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbamcr.2017.01.003