2018 Volume 82 Issue 4 Pages 1195-1204
Background:Rho-associated kinases (ROCK1 and ROCK2) are important regulators of the actin cytoskeleton and endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS). Because the phosphorylation of eukaryotic elongation factor-1A1 (eEF1A1) by ROCK2 is critical for eNOS expression, we hypothesized that this molecular pathway may play a critical role in neuroprotection following focal cerebral ischemia.
Methods and Results:Adult male wild-type (WT) and mutant ROCK2 and eNOS−/−mice were subjected to middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO), and cerebral infarct size, neurological deficit and absolute cerebral blood flow were measured. In addition, aortic endothelium-dependent response to acetylcholine, NG-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME) and sodium nitroprusside were assessed ex vivo. Endothelial cells from mouse brain or heart were used to measure eNOS and eEF1A activity, as well as NO production and eNOS mRNA half-life. In global hemizygous ROCK2+/−and endothelial-specific EC-ROCK2−/−mice, eNOS mRNA stability and eNOS expression were increased, which correlated with enhanced endothelium-dependent relaxation and neuroprotection following focal cerebral ischemia. Indeed, when ROCK2+/−mice were place on an eNOS−/−background, the neuroprotective effects observed in ROCK2+/−mice were abolished.
Conclusions:These findings indicate that the phosphorylation of eEF1A1 by ROCK2 is physiologically important for eNOS expression and NO-mediated neuroprotection, and suggest that targeting endothelial ROCK2 and eEF1A may have therapeutic benefits in ischemic stroke and cardiovascular disease.