GEF-H1 mediates tumor necrosis factor-α-induced Rho activation and myosin phosphorylation: Role in the regulation of tubular paracellular permeability

Eli Kakiashvili, Pam Speight, Faiza Waheed, Romy Seth, Monika Lodyga, Susumu Tanimura, Michiaki Kohno, Ori D. Rotstein, András Kapus, Katalin Szászi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations

Abstract

Tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), an inflammatory cytokine, has been shown to activate the small GTPase Rho, but the underlying signaling mechanisms remained undefined. This general problem is particularly important in the kidney, because TNF-α, a major mediator of kidney injury, is known to increase paracellular permeability in tubular epithelia. Here we aimed to determine the effect of TNF-α on the Rho pathway in tubular cells (LLC-PK1 and Madin-Darby canine kidney), define the upstream signaling, and investigate the role of the Rho pathway in the TNF-α-induced alterations of paracellular permeability. We show that TNF-α induced a rapid and sustained RhoA activation that led to stress fiber formation and Rho kinase-dependent myosin light chain (MLC) phosphorylation. To identify new regulators connecting the TNF receptor to Rho signaling, we applied an affinity precipitation assay with a Rho mutant (RhoG17A), which captures activated GDP-GTP exchange factors (GEFs). Mass spectrometry analysis of the RhoG17A-precipitated proteins identified GEF-H1 as a TNF-α-activated Rho GEF. Consistent with a central role of GEF-H1, its down-regulation by small interfering RNA prevented the activation of the Rho pathway. Moreover GEF-H1 and Rho activation are downstream of ERK signaling as the MEK1/2 inhibitor PD98059 mitigated TNF-α-induced activation of these proteins. Importantly TNF-αenhanced the ERK pathway-dependent phosphorylation of Thr-678 of GEF-H1 that was key for activation. Finally the TNF-α-induced paracellular permeability increase was absent in LLC-PK1 cells stably expressing a non-phosphorylatable, dominant negative MLC. In summary, we have identified the ERK/GEF-H1/Rho/Rho kinase/phospho-MLC pathway as the mechanism mediating TNF-α-induced elevation of tubular epithelial permeability, which in turn might contribute to kidney injury.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11454-11466
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Volume284
Issue number17
DOIs
StatePublished - 24 Apr 2009
Externally publishedYes

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