Inflammatory mediators such as histamine and thrombin increase the tight-junction permeability of endothelial cells. Tight-junction permeability may be independently controlled, but is dependent on the adherens junction, where adhesion is achieved through homotypic interaction of cadherins, which in turn are associated with cytoplasmic proteins, the catenins. p120, also termed p120cas/p120ctn, and its splice variant, p100, are catenins. p120, originally discovered as a substrate of the tyrosine kinase Src, is also a target for a protein kinase C-stimulated pathway in epithelial cells, causing its serine/threonine dephosphorylation. The present study shows that pharmacological activation of protein kinase C stimulated a similar pathway in endothelial cells. Activation of receptors for agents such as histamine (H1), thrombin and lysophosphatidic acid in the endothelial cells also caused serine/threonine dephosphorylation of p120 and p100, suggesting physiological relevance. However, protein kinase C inhibitors, although blocking the effect of pharmacological activation of protein kinase C, did not block the effects due to receptor activation. Calcium mobilization and the myosin-light-chain-kinase pathway do not participate in p120/p100 signalling. In conclusion, endothelial cells possess protein kinase C-dependent and -independent pathways regulating p120/p100 serine/threonine phosphorylation. These data describe a new connection between inflammatory agents, receptor-stimulated signalling and pathways potentially influencing intercellular adhesion in endothelial cells.

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