Release of cellular tension signals self-restorative ventral lamellipodia to heal barrier micro-wounds
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Basic mechanisms by which cellular barriers sense and respond to integrity disruptions remain poorly understood. Despite its tenuous structure and constitutive exposure to disruptive strains, the vascular endothelium exhibits robust barrier function. We show that in response to micrometer-scale disruptions induced by transmigrating leukocytes, endothelial cells generate unique ventral lamellipodia that propagate via integrins toward and across these “micro-wounds” to close them. This novel actin remodeling activity progressively healed multiple micro-wounds in succession and changed direction during this process. Mechanical probe-induced micro-wounding of both endothelia and epithelia suggests that ventral lamellipodia formed as a response to force imbalance and specifically loss of isometric tension. Ventral lamellipodia were enriched in the Rac1 effectors cortactin, IQGAP, and p47Phox and exhibited localized production of hydrogen peroxide. Together with Apr2/3, these were functionally required for effective micro-wound healing. We propose that barrier disruptions are detected as local release of isometric tension/force unloading, which is directly coupled to reactive oxygen species-dependent self-restorative actin remodeling dynamics.