Mechanosensitive ion channels mediate endothelial responses to blood flow and orchestrate their physiological function in response to hemodynamic forces. In this study, we utilized microfluidic technologies to study the shear-induced sensitization of endothelial Piezo-1 to its selective agonist, Yoda-1. We demonstrated that shear stress-induced sensitization is brief and can be impaired when exposing aortic endothelial cells to low and proatherogenic levels of shear stress. Our results suggest that shear stress-induced sensitization of Piezo-1 to Yoda-1 is independent of cell–cell adhesion and is mediated by the PI3K-AKT signaling pathway. We also found that shear stress increases the membrane density of Piezo-1 channels in endothelial cells. To further confirm our findings, we performed experiments using a carotid artery ligation mouse model and demonstrated that transient changes in blood-flow pattern, resulting from a high-degree ligation of the mouse carotid artery alters the distribution of Piezo-1 channels across the endothelial layer. These results suggest that shear stress influences the function of Piezo-1 channels via changes in membrane density, providing a new model of shear-stress sensitivity for Piezo-1 ion channel.
- endothelial cells
- shear stress