Tipping off endothelial tubes: nitric oxide drives tip cells
The pyrrolizidine alkaloid monocrotaline (MCT) initiates pulmonary hypertension by inducing a "megalocytosis" phenotype in target pulmonary arterial endothelial, smooth muscle and Type II alveolar epithelial cells. In cultured endothelial cells, a single exposure to the pyrrolic derivative of monocrotaline (MCTP) results in large cells with enlarged endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and Golgi and increased vacuoles. However, these cells fail to enter mitosis. Largely based upon data from endothelial cells, we proposed earlier that a disruption of the trafficking and mitosis-sensor functions of the Golgi (the "Golgi blockade" hypothesis) may represent the subcellular mechanism leading to MCTP-induced megalocytosis. In the present study, we investigated the applicability of the Golgi blockade hypothesis to epithelial cells. MCTP induced marked megalocytosis in cultures of lung A549 and breast MCF-7 cells. This was associated with a change in the distribution of the cis-Golgi scaffolding protein GM130 from a discrete juxtanuclear localization to a circumnuclear distribution consistent with an anterograde block of GM130 trafficking to/through the Golgi. There was also a loss of plasma membrane caveolin-1 and E-cadherin, cortical actin together with a circumnuclear accumulation of clathrin heavy chain (CHC) and alpha-tubulin. Flotation analyses revealed losses/alterations in the association of caveolin-1, E-cadherin and CHC with raft microdomains. Moreover, megalocytosis was accompanied by an enhanced unfolded protein response (UPR) as evidenced by nuclear translocation of Ire1alpha and glucose regulated protein 58 (GRP58/ER-60/ERp57) and a circumnuclear accumulation of PERK kinase and protein disulfide isomerase (PDI). These data further support the hypothesis that an MCTP-induced Golgi blockade and enhanced UPR may represent the subcellular mechanism leading to enlargement of ER and Golgi and subsequent megalocytosis.