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Stephen A. K. Harvey, Susan C. Anderson, Nirmala SundarRaj; Downstream Effects of ROCK Signaling in Cultured Human Corneal Stromal Cells: Microarray Analysis of Gene Expression. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2004;45(7):2168-2176. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.03-1218.
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purpose. Rho-associated coiled-coil-containing protein kinase (ROCK) is a downstream target of Rho GTPase signaling and regulates the assembly of stress fibers. Previous reports indicate that Rho/ROCK signaling is involved in the regulation of several cellular processes, some of which may be cell-type specific and are probably critical to corneal stromal cell activation. The present study identified ROCK-regulated gene expression in corneal stromal cells.
methods. Corneal stromal cells derived from eyes of three different donors were cultured to yield the following designated phenotypes: baseline fibroblasts (DMEM with 10% serum), activated fibroblasts (10% serum+bFGF+heparin), and myofibroblasts (1% serum+TGF-β1). Cells were exposed to the ROCK inhibitor Y-27632 or vehicle for 12 hours, and transcript levels altered by ROCK inhibition were identified with oligonucleotide microarrays (GeneChips; Affymetrix, Santa Clara, CA).
results. In these phenotypes, Y-27632 caused marked (twofold or more) increases or decreases in 14/4, 12/3, and 15/10 transcripts. In both fibroblast groups Y-27632-treatment increased expression of endothelin receptors and of parathyroid hormone-like hormone. The upregulation of α-smooth muscle actin in myofibroblasts was attenuated by Y-27632. Combining data from all groups identified ROCK-supported (Y-27632 inhibitable) expression of 10 transcripts, including ribonucleotide reductase M2, the cyclin B1-CDC2-CKS2 system, and four mitotic spindle-associated proteins.
conclusions. ROCK inhibition causes broad inhibition of DNA synthesis and mitosis and causes changes that are different between (bFGF-activated) fibroblasts and (TGF-β1–induced) myofibroblasts. Thus, Rho/ROCK signaling regulates both common and distinct downstream events in corneal stromal cells activated (differentiated) to fibroblast or myofibroblast phenotype.
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