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J Biol Chem. 2010 Apr 23;285(17):12536-42. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M109.099630. Epub 2010 Feb 17.

Rho kinase-2 activation in human endothelial cells drives lysophosphatidic acid-mediated expression of cell adhesion molecules via NF-kappaB p65.

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  • 1Inflammation Research Unit, Pfizer Global Research and Development, Chesterfield, Missouri 63017, USA.


Endothelial cells play an important role in the recruitment of immune cells to a disease locus through the induced expression of chemokines and cell adhesion molecules (CAMs). The proinflammatory lysophospholipid, lysophosphatidic acid (LPA), which is elevated in multiple inflammatory diseases, is a potent activator of the RhoA/Rho kinase signaling pathway and has been shown to induce the expression of CAMs in endothelial cells. The present study was undertaken to map signal transduction downstream of LPA and to investigate the contributions of the Rho kinase isoforms ROCK1 and ROCK2 to adhesion molecule expression in human umbilical vein endothelial cells. LPA activated Rho kinase within minutes and subsequently the NF-kappaB pathway through phosphorylation of the p65 subunit. The lipid also induced the late expression of intracellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) and vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1). Pharmacologic inhibition of Rho kinase signaling blocked LPA-induced p65 phosphorylation and suppressed ICAM-1 and VCAM-1 expression. Inhibition of the NF-kappaB pathway had no impact on LPA-induced Rho kinase activation, but inhibited adhesion molecule expression. Small interfering RNA-facilitated knockdown of each isoform identified ROCK2 as the mediator of LPA-driven phosphorylation of NF-kappaB p65 and of ICAM-1 and VCAM-1 mRNA and protein induction. Taken collectively, our data are consistent with Rho kinase being upstream of NF-kappaB in driving LPA-mediated adhesion molecule expression. This study also provides the first evidence of the critical involvement of ROCK2 in LPA-induced CAM expression through activation of the NF-kappaB pathway in human endothelial cells.

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