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J Biol Chem. 2008 Oct 31;283(44):29888-96. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M803880200. Epub 2008 Aug 19.

Protein kinase C-related kinase and ROCK are required for thrombin-induced endothelial cell permeability downstream from Galpha12/13 and Galpha11/q.

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Oral and Pharyngeal Cancer Branch, NIDCR, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


Increase in vascular permeability occurs under many physiological conditions such as wound repair, inflammation, and thrombotic reactions and is central in diverse human pathologies, including tumor-induced angiogenesis, ocular diseases, and septic shock. Thrombin is a pro-coagulant serine protease, which causes the local loss of endothelial barrier integrity thereby enabling the rapid extravasation of plasma proteins and the local formation of fibrin-containing clots. Available information suggests that thrombin induces endothelial permeability by promoting actomyosin contractility through the Rho/ROCK signaling pathway. Here we took advantage of pharmacological inhibitors, knockdown approaches, and the emerging knowledge on how permeability factors affect endothelial junctions to investigate in detail the mechanism underlying thrombin-induced endothelial permeability. We show that thrombin signals through PAR-1 and its coupled G proteins Galpha(12/13) and Galpha(11/q) to induce RhoA activation and intracellular calcium elevation, and that these events are interrelated. In turn, this leads to the stimulation of ROCK, which causes actin stress-fiber formation. However, this alone is not sufficient to account for thrombin-induced permeability. Instead, we found that protein kinase C-related kinase, a Rho-dependent serine/threonine kinase, is activated in endothelial cells upon thrombin stimulation and that its expression is required for endothelial permeability and the remodeling of cell-extracellular matrix and cell-cell adhesions. Our results demonstrate that the signal initiated by thrombin bifurcates at the level of RhoA to promote changes in the cytoskeletal architecture through ROCK, and the remodeling of focal adhesion components through protein kinase C-related kinase. Ultimately, both pathways converge to cause cell-cell junction disruption and provoke vascular leakage.

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