Acute lung injury (ALI) is a critical manifestation of sepsis/septic shock. Disruption of endothelial barrier function is critical for ALI pathogenesis; however, the regulation of endothelial barrier integrity remains largely unclear. Heat shock protein A12A (HSPA12A) is an atypical member of HSP70 family. We have recently demonstrated that hepatocyte HSPA12A attenuated the bacteria endotoxin (lipopolysaccharide, LPS)-induced liver injury. However, the role of HSPA12A in endothelial barrier function and ALI is unknown. Here in this study, HSPA12A showed upregulation in lungs of mice during bacteria endotoxin (lipopolysaccharide, LPS)-induced lung injury in vivo and in primary human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) during LPS-induced barrier disruption in vitro. Knockout of HSPA12A in mice exacerbated LPS-induced ALI. Intriguingly, overexpression of HSPA12A in HUVECs attenuated the LPS-induced endothelial hyperpermeability. In line with this, HSPA12A overexpression increased VE-cadherin and decreased VEGF expression following LPS treatment in HUVECs. Also, knockout of HSPA12A enhanced the LPS-evoked pulmonary endothelial cell apoptosis in mice whereas overexpression of HSPA12A inhibited the LPS-induced death of HUVECs. The levels of ERKs and Akt phosphorylation in HUVECs were promoted by HSPA12A overexpression when cells exposed to LPS. Importantly, inhibition of either ERKs or Akt diminished the HSPA12A-induced protection from LPS-induced endothelial hyperpermeability and death. Taken together, these findings indicated that HSPA12A is a novel regulator of endothelial barrier function through both ERKs and Akt-mediated signaling. HSPA12A might represent a viable strategy for the pulmonary protection against endotoxemia challenge.
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