Modulation of Angiopoietin 2 release from endothelial cells and angiogenesis by the synaptic protein Neuroligin 2

Margherita Pergolizzi, Laura Bizzozero, Elena Riccitelli, Davide Pascal, Anna Valeria Samarelli, Federico Bussolino, Marco Arese

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The synaptic protein Neuroligin 2, similarly to its isoform Neuroligin 1, is produced by endothelial cells, but its activity in the vascular context remains unknown. This study aimed at verifying the hypothesis that Neuroligin 2, in parallel with its extraneuronal involvement in pancreatic beta cells exocytosis, modulated cytokine release from endothelial cells and consequently angiogenesis. We used in vitro approaches to modulate Neuroligin 2 expression and Neuroligin 2 null mice to test our hypotheses. In vitro, upon VEGF stimulation, Neuroligin 2 silencing strongly reduces Angiopoietin 2 release in the medium and increases the endothelial cell retention of Weibel Palade Bodies, the specialized organelles that store Angiopoietin 2 and various other cytokines. On the contrary, Neuroligin 2 overexpression almost depletes cells of Weibel Palade Bodies, independent of VEGF. In vivo, both the retina and tumor xenografts grown in NLGN2- null mice display an immature vasculature, with lower pericyte coverage and lower Tie2 phosphorylation. At the molecular level NLGN2 colocalizes with its neuronal partner collibystin, a CDC42 guanine nucleotide exchange factor, which is also expressed by endothelial cells and in turn modulates Angiopoietin 2 release. Neuroligin 2, an inhibitory synaptic protein, modulates a peculiar aspect of vascular function and could represent a novel target of therapy in various fields, from tumor angiogenesis to vascular diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-171
Number of pages7
JournalBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jun 18 2018


  • Angiopoietin 2
  • Neurovascular parallels
  • Physiological and tumor angiogenesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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