Both RhoA/ROCK and Raf-1/CK2 pathway play essential roles in cell proliferation, apoptosis, differentiation, and multiple other common cellular functions. We previously reported that vimentin is responsible for TNF-α-induced cell apoptosis. Herein, we investigated the regulation of RhoA/ROCK and Raf-1/CK2 signaling on vimentin filaments and endothelial apoptosis mediated by TNF-α. Treatment with TNF-α significantly induced the activation of RhoA and ROCK, and the expression of ROCK1. RhoA deficiency could obviously inhibit ROCK activation and ROCK1 expression induced by TNF-α. Both RhoA deficiency and ROCK activity inhibition (Y-27632) greatly inhibited endothelial apoptosis and preserved cell viability in TNF-α-induced human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs). Also vimentin phosphorylation and the remodeling of vimentin or phospho-vimentin induced by TNF-α were obviously attenuated by RhoA suppression and ROCK inhibition. TNF-α-mediated vimentin cleavage was significantly inhibited by RhoA suppression and ROCK inhibition through decreasing the activation of caspase3 and 8. Furthermore, TNF-α treatment greatly enhanced the activation of Raf-1. Suppression of Raf-1 or CK2 by its inhibitor (GW5074 or TBB) blocked vimentin phosphorylation, remodeling and endothelial apoptosis, and preserved cell viability in TNF-α-induced HUVECs. However, Raf-1 inhibition showed no significant effect on TNF-α-induced ROCK expression and activation, suggesting that the regulation of Raf-1/CK2 signaling on vimentin was independent of ROCK. Taken together, these results indicate that both RhoA/ROCK and Raf-1/CK2 pathway are responsible for TNF-α-mediated endothelial cytotoxicity via regulating vimentin cytoskeleton.
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