Vinculin controls endothelial cell junction dynamics during vascular lumen formation

Maria P. Kotini, Miesje M. van der Stoel, Jianmin Yin, Mitchell K. Han, Bettina Kirchmaier, Johan de Rooij, Markus Affolter, Stephan Huveneers, Heinz-Georg Belting

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15 Citations (Scopus)


Blood vessel morphogenesis is driven by coordinated endothelial cell behaviors. Active remodeling of cell-cell junctions promotes cellular plasticity while preserving vascular integrity. Here, we analyze the dynamics of endothelial adherens junctions during lumen formation in angiogenic sprouts in vivo. Live imaging in zebrafish reveals that lumen expansion is accompanied by the formation of transient finger-shaped junctions. Junctional fingers are positively regulated by blood pressure, whereas flow inhibition prevents their formation. Using fluorescent reporters, we show that junctional fingers contain the mechanotransduction protein vinculin. Furthermore, genetic deletion of vinculin prevents finger formation, a junctional defect that could be rescued by transient endothelial expression of vinculin. Our findings suggest a mechanism whereby lumen expansion leads to an increase in junctional tension, triggering recruitment of vinculin and formation of junctional fingers. We propose that endothelial cells employ force-dependent junctional remodeling to counteract external forces in order to maintain vascular integrity during sprouting angiogenesis.
Original languageEnglish
Article number110658
JournalCell reports
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 12 Apr 2022


  • CP: Cell biology
  • VE-cadherin
  • angiogenesis
  • cell-cell adhesion
  • junctional dynamics
  • lumenization
  • vinculin
  • zebrafish

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