Histamine-induced phosphorylation of the regulatory light chain of myosin II disrupts the barrier integrity of corneal endothelial cells

Sangly P Srinivas, Minati Satpathy, Ying Guo, Vasuki Anandan
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science 2006, 47 (9): 4011-8

PURPOSE: To investigate histamine-induced changes in the phosphorylation of myosin light chain (MLC) and its influence on the barrier integrity of corneal endothelial cells through altered contractility of the actin cytoskeleton.

METHODS: Experiments were performed in cultured bovine corneal endothelial cells (BCECs). Phosphorylation of MLC, which increases contractility of the actin cytoskeleton through actomyosin interaction, was assessed by urea-glycerol gel electrophoresis and Western blot analysis. Immunocytochemistry was used to locate phosphorylated MLC in relation to tight junctions. Phosphorylation of the 17-kDa PKC-potentiated inhibitory protein of type 1 protein phosphatase (CPI-17), which inhibits MLC phosphatase, was studied using Western blot analysis. The cortical actin cytoskeleton was visualized by staining with Texas-red phalloidin. Barrier integrity was determined by quantifying horseradish peroxidase (HRP; 44 kDa) flux across cells grown on porous filters.

RESULTS: RT-PCR and Western blot analysis confirmed the expression of Galphaq/11-coupled H1 receptors in BCECs. Exposure to histamine (100 microM; 10 minutes) led to phosphorylation of MLC (134% relative to untreated cells) and of CPI-17. Histamine also increased the flux of HRP by sevenfold and disrupted the assembly of the dense cortical actin found in resting cells. PKC activation by phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA; 100 nM; 30 minutes) caused phosphorylation of both MLC and CPI-17. The histamine-induced MLC phosphorylation was reduced by pre-exposure to either ML-7 (50 microM), an MLCK (MLC kinase) inhibitor, or chelerythrine (10 microM), an inhibitor of PKC. Cotreatment with agents that elevate cAMP in BCECs prevented the histamine-induced MLC phosphorylation and the disruption of the actin cytoskeleton, and increased HRP flux. Phosphorylated MLC in response to histamine or PMA was found in a punctate form in close proximity to ZO-1, a marker of the tight junctional complex.

CONCLUSIONS: Histamine induces MLC phosphorylation by activating MLCK and partly inhibiting MLC phosphatase. The latter is facilitated by the phosphorylation of CPI-17. Localization of phosphorylated MLC in proximity to ZO-1 suggests increased contractility of the cortical actin at the tight junctional complex. This contractility oppose the tethering forces and lead to a breakdown of the barrier integrity. Last, elevated cAMP prevents histamine-induced loss of the barrier integrity, not only by blocking inactivation of MLC phosphatase but also by inactivating MLCK.

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