Thrombin-induced phosphorylation of the regulatory light chain of myosin II in cultured bovine corneal endothelial cells

M. Satpathy, P. Gallagher, M. Lizotte-Waniewski, S. P. Srinivas

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62 Scopus citations


Phosphorylation of the regulatory light chain of myosin II (referred to as myosin light chain or MLC) leads to a loss of barrier integrity in cellular monolayers by an increase in the contractility of the cortical actin cytoskeleton. This effect has been examined in corneal endothelial (CE) cells.Experiments were performed using cultured bovine CE cells (BCEC). MLC phosphorylation was induced by a thrombin-mediated activation of the proteinase-activated receptor-1 (PAR-1). Expression of MLC kinase (MLCK), a Ca 2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase that phosphorylates MLC at its Ser-19 and Thr-18 residues, was determined by RT-PCR and Western blotting. Expression of PAR-1, RhoA, and Rho kinase-1 (effector of RhoA) was ascertained by RT-PCR. MLC phosphorylation was assessed by urea-glycerol gel electrophoresis followed by immunoblotting. The effects of Rho kinase-1 and PKC were characterized by using their selective inhibitors, Y-27632 and chelerythrine, respectively. Reorganization of the cytoskeleton was evaluated by the phalloidin staining of actin. [Ca 2+] i was measured using Fura-2. The barrier integrity was assayed as permeability of BCEC monolayers to horseradish peroxidase (HRP; 44 kDa).RT-PCR showed expression of MLCK, PAR-1, Rho kinase-1, and RhoA. Western blotting indicated expression of the non-muscle and smooth muscle isoforms of MLCK. Exposure to thrombin induced an increase in [Ca 2+] i with the peak unaffected by an absence of extracellular Ca 2+. Pre-exposure to thrombin (2 U ml -1; 2 min) led to mono- and di-phosphorylation of MLC. Under both basal conditions and in the presence of thrombin, MLC phosphorylation was prevented by chelerythrine (10 μm) and Y-27632 (<25 μm). Thrombin led to inter-endothelial gaps secondary to the disruption of the cortical actin cytoskeleton, which under resting conditions was organized as a perijunctional actomyosin ring (PAMR). These responses were blocked by pre-treatment with Y-27632. Thrombin also increased permeability to HRP, which was abolished by pre-treatment with Y-27632.Thrombin induces MLC phosphorylation in BCEC. The consequent increase in the contractility of the actin cytoskeleton produces a centripetal force resulting in inter-endothelial gaps and a breakdown of barrier integrity. These responses are PKC- and Rho kinase-dependent. [Ca 2+] i increase, as well as sensitivity of the thrombin response to PKC and Rho kinase inhibitors, are consistent with the expression of PAR-1 receptors in BCEC. Thrombin-induced hyperpermeability is a model to investigate barrier dysfunction induced by MLC phosphorylation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)477-486
Number of pages10
JournalExperimental eye research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2004


  • corneal endothelium
  • myosin light chain kinase
  • myosin light chain phosphatase
  • rho kinase
  • thrombin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems

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