The role of Rho proteins in lysophosphatidic acid (LPA)-mediated induction of cyclo-oxygenase-2 (Cox-2) was investigated in renal mesangial cells. Previous studies had shown that toxin B, an inhibitor of Rho, Rac and Cdc42, suppressed Cox-2 induction. A role for RhoA in pertussis toxin-sensitive LPA signalling was excluded with C3 transferase from Clostridium limosum, used as the fusion toxin C2IN—C3 (where C2IN is part of the C2I toxin of C. botulinum). Incubation of the cells with C2IN—C3 disrupted cytosolic actin stress fibres, but had no effect on Cox-2 induction. Similarly, activation of p42/44 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAP kinase), an upstream step in Cox-2 induction, was inhibited by toxin B, but not affected by C2IN—C3. Upon treatment with toxin B, focal adhesion kinase and paxillin were dephosphorylated at tyrosine residues and the actin cytoskeleton was completely destroyed. An intact cytoskeleton, however, was not required for p42/44 MAP-kinase activation or Cox-2 induction, as shown by the actin-depolymerizing agent cytochalasin D. Toxin B did not influence functionality of LPA receptors, because Gi-mediated Ca2+ release from intracellular stores remained unchanged. Within 1h, toxin B inactivated and translocated RhoA and Cdc42 to the cellular membranes. Within the same time frame, monoglucosylated Rac1 was degraded. Direct stimulation of Rho proteins by cytotoxic necrotizing factor type 1 (CNF1) induced Cox-2 expression, which was sensitive to inhibition of the MAP-kinase pathway by PD98059, but not to an inhibitor of RhoA kinase. By exclusion of RhoA and non-specific cytoskeletal effects, the results in the present study indicate an important role for Rac and/or Cdc42 in pertussis toxin-sensitive LPA-mediated Cox-2 induction.

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