Activation of Rho-associated coiled-coil protein kinase 1 (ROCK-1) by caspase-3 cleavage plays an essential role in cardiac myocyte apoptosis. Academic Article uri icon


  • Rho-associated coiled-coil protein kinase 1 (ROCK-1) is a direct cleavage substrate of activated caspase-3, which is associated with heart failure. In the course of human heart failure, we found marked cleavage of ROCK-1 resulting in a 130-kDa subspecies, which was absent in normal hearts and in an equivalent cohort of patients with left ventricular assist devices. Murine cardiomyocytes treated with doxorubicin led to enhanced ROCK-1 cleavage and apoptosis, all of which was blocked by a caspase-3 inhibitor. In addition, a bitransgenic mouse model of severe cardiomyopathy, which overexpresses Gq protein and hematopoietic progenitor kinase-/germinal center kinase-like kinase, revealed the robust accumulation of the 130-kDa ROCK-1 cleaved fragment. This constitutively active ROCK-1 subspecies, when expressed in cardiomyocytes, led to caspase-3 activation, indicating a positive feed-forward regulatory loop. ROCK-1-dependent caspase-3 activation was coupled with the activation of PTEN and the subsequent inhibition of protein kinase B (Akt) activity, all of which was attenuated by siRNA directed against ROCK-1 expression. Similarly, ROCK-1-null mice (Rock-1(-/-)) showed a marked reduction in myocyte apoptosis associated with pressure overload. These data suggest an obligatory role for ROCK-1 cleavage in promoting apoptotic signals in myocardial hypertrophy and/or failure.

published proceedings

  • Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A

altmetric score

  • 6

author list (cited authors)

  • Chang, J., Xie, M., Shah, V. R., Schneider, M. D., Entman, M. L., Wei, L., & Schwartz, R. J.

citation count

  • 187

complete list of authors

  • Chang, Jiang||Xie, Min||Shah, Viraj R||Schneider, Michael D||Entman, Mark L||Wei, Lei||Schwartz, Robert J

publication date

  • September 2006