Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) influences several components of the angiogenic response, including endothelial cell migration. While recent studies indicate a crucial role of HGF in brain angiogenesis, the signaling pathways that regulate brain endothelial cell migration by HGF remain uncharacterized. Herein, we report that HGF stimulated human brain microvascular endothelial cell (HBMEC) migration in a dose- and time-dependent manner. Challenge of HBMECs with HGF activated the c-jun amino-terminal kinase (JNK), increased phosphorylation of the proline-rich tyrosine kinase 2 (Pyk-2) at Tyr402 and activated c-Src. Inhibition of JNK by SP600125 or expression of a dominant negative JNK1 construct abrogated the migratory response of HBMECs to HGF. Treatment of HBMECs with the Src inhibitor PP2 markedly decreased HGF-stimulated JNK activation and migration to HGF. Moreover, expression of a mutant Pyk-2 construct prevented HGF-induced Pyk-2 phosphorylation at Tyr402 and stimulation of HBMEC migration. Next, we examined activation of the extracellular signal regulated kinase (ERK) pathway. Stimulation of HBMECs by HGF led to rapid activation of ERK1/2, phosphorylation of Raf-1 at Ser338 and Tyr340/341 and MEK1/2 at Ser222. Moreover, inhibition of ERK activation by UO126 and PD98059 markedly decreased HGF-stimulated HBMEC migration. HGF also activated AKT, while inhibition of AKT by LY294002 induced a modest decrease of HGF-induced HBMEC migration. These results highlight a model whereby JNK and ERK play a critical role in regulation of brain endothelial cell migration by HGF.
- Endothelial cells