Inhibition of RhoA/Rho-kinase pathway suppresses the expression of type I collagen induced by TGF-beta2 in human retinal pigment epithelial cells

Yuji Itoh, Kenichi Kimoto, Masamoto Imaizumi, Kazuo Nakatsuka
Experimental Eye Research 2007, 84 (3): 464-72
Proliferative vitreoretinopathy (PVR) is a major cause of the failure of rhegmatogenous retinal detachment surgery. The pathogenesis of PVR includes a fibrotic reaction of retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells caused by transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta. The cellular mechanisms by which TGF-beta induces extracellular matrix protein synthesis are not fully understood. In this study, we examined whether the RhoA/Rho-kinase pathway was involved in TGF-beta2-induced collagen expression in a human RPE cell line, ARPE-19. The roles of RhoA and Rho-kinase were evaluated using biochemical inhibitors, RhoA inhibitor, simvastatin and Rho-kinase inhibitor, Y27632. The effects of simvastatin or Y27632 on the type I collagen mRNA (COL1A1 and COL1A2) expression induced by TGF-beta2 were evaluated by real-time RT-PCR. The effects of simvastatin or Y27632 on type I collagen synthesis induced by TGF-beta2 were assessed by immunocytochemical analysis with anti-type I collagen antibody. To examine the effects of simvastatin or Y27632 on COL1A2 promoter activity induced by TGF-beta2, luciferase reporter assays were also performed. Moreover, the role of RhoA itself on COL1A2 promoter activity was assessed using the constructs of constitutively active RhoA and dominant-negative RhoA. RhoA was activated within 5 min after stimulation with TGF-beta2, and its activation persisted for as long as 1 h in a dose-dependent fashion. Preincubation of ARPE-19 with simvastatin (5 microM) or Y27632 (10 microM) significantly prevented TGF-beta2-induced COL1A1 and COL1A2 gene expression. Inhibition of RhoA/Rho-kinase markedly suppressed TGF-beta2-induced type I collagen synthesis in ARPE-19. Moreover, the blockage of RhoA/Rho-kinase inhibited the increase in COL1A2 promoter activity when induced by TGF-beta2. Constitutively active RhoA increased COL1A2 promoter activity in the presence or absence of TGF-beta2. Simvastatin and Y27632 reduced active RhoA-induced COL1A2 promoter activity. The dominant-negative RhoA inhibited COL1A2 promoter activity augmentation induced by TGF-beta2. In the luciferase assay using a mutation construct of the Smad binding site in COL1A2 promoter (Smad-mut/Luc), the treatment with simvastatin and Y27632 significantly reduced TGF-beta2 induction of Smad-mut/Luc promoter activity. On the other hand, both simvastatin and Y27632 significantly reduced CAGA12-Luc activity induced by TGF-beta2. These results indicate that the RhoA/Rho-kinase pathway plays a role in relaying TGF-beta2 signal transduction to type I collagen synthesis in RPE cells in a Smad-dependent and Smad-independent fashion. The RhoA/Rho-kinase pathway may be a therapeutic target for treating PVR.

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