IRMC logo Nitrosylation of beta-catenin permits endothelial cells to detach from one another, thus increasing vascular permeability. Experts from the Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal examined a new intracellular, the nitrosylation of beta-catenin protein by nitric oxide which is seemingly accountable for modifying vascular permeability. These findings may be useful for the treatment of cancerous tumors. This can be mainly done by varying the permeability of the blood vessels irrigating them.

The area between endothelial cells highlights the permeability of blood vessels. However, advancing permeability is apparently significant in angiogenesis which is the process of formation of new blood vessels. Vascular endothelial growth factor is supposedly liable for stimulating angiogenesis, and augmenting vascular permeability. This is done through the activation of the eNOS enzyme, which in turn produces nitric oxide.

“We already knew that NO plays a very important role in the modulation of vascular permeability and that it could represent a target for blocking the growth of tumors,” remarked Dr. Jean-Philippe Gratton, Director of the Endothelial cell biology research unit at the Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal. “However, we ignored how it worked. We have now shown that beta-catenin is the specific protein targeted by nitrosylation – the chemical modification of proteins in endothelial cells by NO.”

The process by which Nitrosylation of beta-catenin permits endothelial cells to separate seemingly revives affected arteries post heart attack. Whereas, on the other hand, lowering endothelial permeability present in cancerous tumors may restrict the formation of new blood vessels on which they feed, and therefore obstruct their growth. Experts reveal that NO’s functions could assist several fields of research. This is mainly because the molecule is involved in many physiological and pathological processes. These findings may have a potential impact on certain types of tumor growth.

The findings were published in the scientific journal Molecular Cell.