Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) is known to induce changes in endothelial cell morphology and permeability, but the mechanisms have not been extensively characterized. TNF-alpha rapidly induced RhoA activation and myosin light chain phosphorylation, but caused only small changes to cortical F-actin, without significantly increasing paracellular permeability up to 30 min after stimulation. TNF-alpha subsequently caused a progressive increase in permeability and in stress fiber reorganization, cell elongation, and intercellular gap formation over 8-24 h. Consistent with the increased permeability, Occludin and JAM-A were removed from tight junctions and ZO-1 was partially redistributed. Rho/ROCK but not MLCK inhibition prevented the long-term TNF-alpha-induced changes in F-actin and cell morphology, but ROCK inhibition did not affect permeability. These results suggest that the gradual increase in permeability induced by TNF-alpha does not reflect contractile mechanisms mediated by Rho, ROCK, and MLCK, but involves long-term reorganization of tight junction proteins.
(c) 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.