Septin and actin contributions to endothelial cell–cell junctions and monolayer integrity

Joanna Kim, Olivia L. Mooren, Michael D. Onken, John A. Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Septins in endothelial cells (ECs) have important roles supporting the integrity of the endothelial monolayer. Cell–cell junctions in EC monolayers are highly dynamic, with continuous retractions and protrusions. Depletion of septins in ECs leads to disruption of cell–cell junctions, which are composed of VE-cadherin and other junctional proteins. In EC monolayers, septins are concentrated at the plasma membrane at sites of cell–cell contact, in curved- and scallop-shaped patterns. These membrane-associated septin accumulations are located in regions of positive membrane curvature, and those regions are often associated with and immediately adjacent to actin-rich protrusions with negative membrane curvature. EC septins associate directly with plasma membrane lipids, based on findings with site-specific mutations of septins in ECs, which is consistent with biochemical and cell biological studies in other systems. Loss of septins leads to disruption of the EC monolayer, and gaps form between cells. The number and breadth of cell–cell contacts and junctions decreases, and the number and frequency of retractions, ruffles, and protrusions at cell edges also decreases. In addition, loss of septins leads to decreased amounts of F-actin at the cortical membrane, along with increased amounts of F-actin in stress fibers of the cytoplasm. Endothelial monolayer disruption from loss of septins is also associated with decreased transendothelial electric resistance (TEER) and increased levels of transendothelial migration (TEM) by immune and cancer cells, owing to the gaps in the monolayer. A current working model is that assembly of septin filaments at regions of positive membrane curvature contributes to a mechanical footing or base for actin-based protrusive forces generated at adjoining regions of the membrane. Specific molecular interactions between the septin and actin components of the cytoskeleton may also be important contributors. Regulators of actin assembly may promote and support the assembly of septin filaments at the membrane, as part of a molecular feedback loop between the assembly of septin and actin filaments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)228-241
Number of pages14
Issue number7-8
StatePublished - Jul 1 2023


  • actin
  • cytoskeleton
  • endothelium
  • septin
  • transmigration


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