Author(s): Grosheva I, Vittitow JL, Goichberg P, Gabelt BT, Kaufman PL, Borrás T, Geiger B, Bershadsky AD. Caldesmon effects on the actin cytoskeleton and cell adhesion in cultured HTM cells. Exp Eye Res. 2006 Jun;82(6):945-58. PMID 16679125
Journal: Experimental Eye Research, Volume 82, Issue 6, Jun 2006
Caldesmon is a multifunctional ubiquitous regulator of the actin cytoskeleton, which can affect both actomyosin contractility and actin polymerization. Previous studies showed that caldesmon over-expression in cultured fibroblasts produces effects that resemble those of chemical inhibitors of cellular contractility. Since these inhibitors (H-7, Y-27632, etc.) have been shown to lower intraocular pressure and increase outflow facility from the anterior chamber of the eye, we proposed that caldesmon might be used for gene therapy of glaucoma. In the present study we examined the effects of expression of adenovirus-delivered rat non-muscle caldesmon fused with green fluorescent protein (AdCaldGFP) on the actin cytoskeleton and matrix adhesions in cultured human trabecular meshwork (HTM) cells. In addition, we assessed the effect of caldesmon on the stability of cell-cell junctions in kidney epithelial MDCK cells. Cultured HTM cells demonstrate a well-developed actin cytoskeleton, comprising mainly arrays of parallel actomyosin bundles (stress fibers). Lamellipodial protrusions containing dense actin networks are also observed. Cell-matrix adhesions are dominated by focal adhesions (FAs) associated with the ends of the stress fibers, focal complexes in lamellipodia, and fibrillar adhesions in the central part of the spread cells. Treatment of HTM cells with AdCaldGFP resulted in dose-dependent morphological changes within 24-48 hr post-infection. Cells expressing moderate levels of caldesmon exhibited straight bundles containing actin and myosin II, which were considerably shorter than those in control cells. Short filament bundles in caldesmon over-expressing cells formed arrays consisting of triangular actin structures with small vinculin-positive FAs at their vertices. In addition, the fraction of cells displaying large lamellipodia increased. About 40-50% of the population of caldesmon-expressing cells demonstrated high levels of GFP-caldesmon expression and severe changes in the actin cytoskeleton, manifested by the disappearance of stress fibers and the formation of curved actin- and myosin-containing bundles. These bundles formed together a dynamic network consisting of pulsating loops filling the entire cytoplasm. Addition of thapsigargin, which increases intracellular Ca++ concentration, resulted in a straightening of the curved bundles. Another type of novel actin structures induced by caldesmon over-expression were highly dynamic circular waves that propagated over the affected cells with a velocity about 10 microm min. In cells with disrupted stress fibers, vinculin-containing FAs and tensin-rich fibrillar adhesions had also essentially vanished. However, phosphotyrosine-positive focal complexes were still prominent throughout the lamellipodia of these cells. Over-expression of caldesmon in MDCK cells reduced, in a dose dependent manner, the beta-catenin content at cell-cell adherens junctions and in some cases led to physical disruption of adherens junctions. Thus, caldesmon over-expression induces unique reorganization of the actin cytoskeleton in affected cells, accompanied by disruption of focal and fibrillar cell-matrix adhesions, and destabilization of cell-cell adherens junctions. Inducing such changes in the contractility and actin cytoskeleton of HTM cells in glaucomatous eyes in vivo could produce a therapeutically useful increase in outflow facility.