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Susan C. Anderson, Cynthia Stone, Lisa Tkach, Nirmala SundarRaj; Rho and Rho-Kinase (ROCK) Signaling in Adherens and Gap Junction Assembly in Corneal Epithelium. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2002;43(4):978-986.
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purpose. To examine whether Rho and its downstream target, a Rho-associated kinase (ROCK), are involved in the regulation of the assembly of cadherin-mediated cell adhesion and connexin 43 (Cx43) gap junctions in corneal epithelium.
methods. Rho and ROCK activities in rabbit corneal epithelial cells in culture were inhibited by microinjection of a Clostridium botulinum ADP-ribosyltransferase (C3) and treatment with a ROCK specific inhibitor (Y-27632), respectively. Immunocytochemical and Western blot techniques were used to study the distribution and relative concentrations of E-cadherin and Cx43. Intercellular communication via gap junctions was measured by a dye transfer assay.
results. Inhibition of Rho activity in the primary cultures of rabbit corneal epithelial cells by microinjecting them with C3 resulted in an inhibition of the assembly of E-cadherin-based cell-cell adhesion and Cx43 gap junctions. However, inhibition of the ROCK activity by treatment with Y-27632 inhibited the assembly of E-cadherin-based cell-cell adhesions but not Cx43 gap junctions. In fact, inhibition of ROCK resulted in an increase in the number of Cx43 gap junctions and in cell-cell communication. Culturing corneal epithelial cells in a low calcium medium prevented the formation of E-cadherin adherens junctions but not the Cx43 gap junctions.
conclusions. E-cadherin adherens junctions are not a prerequisite for the assembly of Cx43 gap junctions in corneal epithelial cells. Different Rho signaling pathways are involved in the regulation of the assembly of E-cadherin mediated cell-cell adhesion and Cx43 gap junctions. Although a Rho/ROCK signaling pathway influences the assembly of E-cadherin adherens junctions, its downregulation influences Cx43 gap junction assembly.
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