Understanding endothelium in health and disease


Graphical abstract of the study

In a recent publication in Cell Systems researchers have identified endothelial biomarkers that provide potential vascular drug targets and candidates for functional studies to increase understanding of the endothelium in health and disease.

Endothelial cells line the inside of all vessels and have a critical role in the regulation of hemostasis, inflammation, defense against blood borne pathogens, vascular tone, angiogenesis, and the transport of molecules and nutrients to and from the blood stream.

Proteins critical for these specialized functions tend to be predominantly expressed in endothelial cells across vascular beds. Here, as an illustrative application of the Human Protein Atlas resource, the researchers used a systems-based approach to define the physiological human in vivo pan endothelial-enriched gene expression profile using whole-transcriptome analysis of unfractionated tissue samples.

The group analyzed RNA sequencing tissue generated as part of the Human Protein Atlas Project.

Using this material the researchers identify a panel of human pan endothelial cell-enriched transcripts and replicate the findings using the same analysis protocol on Genotype-Tissue Expression (GTEx) datasets. 118 of the identified transcripts encode for novel or uncharacterized EC proteins. The researchers also provide a searchable resource that can be used to determine the extent of pan endothelial specificity of any gene.

The identification of previously unknown endothelial cell-enriched genes provides new vascular drug targets or biomarker candidates and presents candidates for future studies to further increase the understanding of EC function in health and disease.

– We are pleased to be able to use the data generated by the Human Protein Atlas Project to not only address a fundamental question in endothelial biology, but to also highlight to the research community how this sort of publicly accessible data set can creatively analyzed to generate important new biological information, Lynn Butler, first author of the study says.

There is a commentary in Cell Systems about the study in which the authors conclude:

'In short, as we rapidly expand our data generation capacity through evermore powerful sequencing and mass spectrometry techniques, the current capacity to annotate and interrogate these datasets to extract useful knowledge and information is increasingly becoming rate limiting. The study from Butler et al. highlights the utility of datasets such as the Human Protein Atlas and the Genotype Tissue Project, provides a valuable resource for endothelial biologists, and adds another simple but potentially useful method in our toolbox to achieve a deconvoluted human transcriptome with better resolution for individual cell and tissue types.'

If you want to read the whole paper, there is a live link through which the paper can be accessed and downloaded without a subscription to the journal until Nov 17th. Read the study Analysis of Body-wide Unfractionated Tissue Data to Identify a Core Human Endothelial Transcriptome here >>

Frida Henningson Johnson