Cooperative effects of Rho and mechanical stretch on stress fiber organization.
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The small GTPase Rho regulates the formation of actin stress fibers in adherent cells through activation of its effector proteins Rho-kinase and mDia. We found in bovine aortic endothelial cells that inhibitions of Rho, Rho-kinase, and mDia (with C3, Y27632, and F1F2Delta1, respectively) suppressed stress fiber formation, but fibers appeared after 10% cyclic uniaxial stretch (1-Hz frequency). In contrast to the predominately perpendicular alignment of stress fibers to the stretch direction in normal cells, the stress fibers in cells with Rho pathway inhibition became oriented parallel to the stretch direction. In cells with normal Rho activity, the extent of perpendicular orientation of stress fibers depended on the magnitude of stretch. Expressing active RhoV14 plasmid in these cells enhanced the stretch-induced stress fiber orientation by an extent equivalent to an additional approximately 3% stretch. This augmentation of the stretch-induced perpendicular orientation by RhoV14 was blocked by Y27632 and by F1F2Delta1. Thus, the activity of the Rho pathway plays a critical role in determining both the direction and extent of stretch-induced stress fiber orientation in bovine aortic endothelial cells. Our results demonstrate that the stretch-induced stress fiber orientation is a function of the interplay between Rho pathway activity and the magnitude of stretching.