Rho kinase inhibition rescues the endothelial cell cerebral cavernous malformation phenotype


Cerebral cavernous malformations (CCM) are vascular lesions causing seizures and stroke. Mutations causing inactivation of one of three genes, ccm1, -2, or -3, are sufficient to induce vascular endothelial cell defects resulting in CCM. Herein, we show that loss of expression of the CCM1, -2, or -3 proteins causes a marked increase in expression of the GTPase RhoA. Live cell imaging with a RhoA-specific biosensor demonstrates increased RhoA activity with loss of CCM1, -2, or -3, with an especially pronounced RhoA activation in both the cytosol and the nucleus with loss of CCM1 expression. Increased RhoA activation was associated with Rho kinase-dependent phosphorylation of myosin light chain 2. Functionally, loss of CCM1, -2, or -3 inhibited endothelial cell vessel-like tube formation and extracellular matrix invasion, each of which is rescued by chemical inhibition or short hairpin RNA knockdown of Rho kinase. The findings, for the first time, define a signaling network for CCM1, -2, and -3 in CCM pathology, whereby loss of CCM1, -2, or -3 protein expression results in increased RhoA activity, with the activation of Rho kinase responsible for endothelial cell dysregulation. The results define Rho kinase as a therapeutic target to rescue endothelial cells from loss of CCM protein function. © 2010 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.

Publication Title

Journal of Biological Chemistry