Spatially-structured cell populations process multiple sensory signals in parallel in intact vascular endothelium: stimulus-specific sensory cells in the intact vascular endothelium

Matthew D. Lee, Calum Wilson, Christopher D. Saunter, Charles Kennedy, John M. Girkin, John G. McCarron

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Blood flow, blood clotting, angiogenesis, vascular permeability and vascular remodeling are each controlled by a large number of variable, noisy and interacting chemical inputs to the endothelium. The endothelium processes the entire chemical composition to which the cardiovascular system is exposed, carrying out sophisticated computations to determine physiological output. A major challenge faced by the endothelium is the requirement to process an enormous quantity of information held in the overall chemical environment to which the vascular system is exposed. We analyzed hundreds of endothelial cells and show that the endothelium segregates the chemical environment into small components of complementary information streams which are processed in parallel. Chemical stimuli arriving at the endothelium are mapped to different clusters of cells which each generate unique signal patterns. When there is more than one stimulus, cells communicate and combine inputs across information streams to generate new distinct signals. Our results establish the endothelium is a structured,collaborative, sensory network which simplifies the complex environment using separate cell clusters concerned with small distinct aspects of the overall information. These clusters interactively compute signals from the diverse but interrelated chemical inputs. These features permit the endothelium to selectively process separate signals and perform multiple computations in an environment that is noisy and variable
Original languageEnglish
Article numbereaar4411
Number of pages20
JournalScience Signaling
Issue number561
Publication statusPublished - 18 Dec 2018



  • cardiovascular system
  • endothelium
  • chemical stimuli
  • sensory signals

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