Transcriptomic profiling of astrocytes treated with the Rho kinase inhibitor Fasudil reveals cytoskeletal and pro-survival responses Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Inhibitors of Rho kinase (ROCK) have potential for management of neurological disorders by inhibition of glial scarring. Since astrocytes play key roles in brain physiology and pathology, we determined changes in the astrocytic transcriptome produced by the ROCK inhibitor Fasudil to obtain mechanistic insights into its beneficial action during brain injury. Cultured murine astrocytes were treated with Fasudil (100 µM) and morphological analyses revealed rapid stellation by 1 h and time-dependent (2-24 h) dissipation of F-actin-labelled stress fibres. Microarray analyses were performed on RNA and the time-course of global gene profiling (2, 6, 12 and 24 h) provided a comprehensive description of transcriptomic changes. Hierarchical clustering of differentially expressed genes and analysis for over-represented gene ontology groups using the DAVID database focused attention on Fasudil-induced changes to major biological processes regulating cellular shape and motility (actin cytoskeleton, axon guidance, transforming growth factor-β (TGFβ) signalling and tight junctions). Bioinformatic analyses of transcriptomic changes revealed how these biological processes contributed to changes in astrocytic motility and cytoskeletal reorganisation. Here genes associated with extracellular matrix were also involved, but unexpected was a subset of alterations (EAAT2, BDNF, anti-oxidant species, metabolic and signalling genes) indicative of adoption by astrocytes of a pro-survival phenotype. Expression profiles of key changes with Fasudil and another ROCK inhibitor Y27632 were validated by real-time PCR. Although effects of ROCK inhibition have been considered to be primarily cytoskeletal via reduction of glial scarring, we demonstrate additional advantageous actions likely to contribute to their ameliorative actions in brain injury.

authors

  • Lau, Chew L
  • Perreau, Victoria M
  • Chen, Minghui J
  • Cate, Holly S
  • Merlo, Daniel
  • Cheung, Nam S
  • O'Shea, Ross D
  • Beart, Philip M

publication date

  • March 2012