Background: PIM1 is a constitutively active serine-threonine kinase regulating cell survival and proliferation. Increased PIM1 expression has been correlated with cancer metastasis by facilitating migration and anti-adhesion. Endothelial cells play a pivotal role in these processes by contributing a barrier to the blood stream. Here, we investigated whether PIM1 regulates mouse aortic endothelial cell (MAEC) monolayer integrity. Methods:Pim1-/- MAEC were isolated from Pim1 knockout mice and used in trypsinization-, wound closure assays, electrical cell-substrate sensing, immunostaining, cDNA transfection and as RNA source for microarray analysis. Results:Pim1-/- MAEC displayed decreased migration, slowed cell detachment and increased electrical resistance across the endothelial monolayer. Reintroduction of Pim1- cDNA into Pim1-/- MAEC significantly restored wildtype adhesive characteristics. Pim1-/-- MAEC displayed enhanced focal adhesion and adherens junction structures containing vinculin and β-catenin, respectively. Junctional molecules such as Cadherin 13 and matrix components such as Collagen 6a3 were highly upregulated in Pim1-/- cells. Intriguingly, extracellular matrix deposited by Pim1-/- cells alone was sufficient to induce the hyperadhesive phenotype in wildtype endothelial cells. Conclusion: Loss of Pim1 induces a strong adhesive phenotype by enhancing endothelial cell-cell and cell-matrix adhesion by the deposition of a specific extracellular matrix. Targeting PIM1 function therefore might be important to promote endothelial barrier integrity.

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