Role of the Rho-ROCK (Rho-associated kinase) signaling pathway in the regulation of pancreatic beta-cell function

Endocrinology. 2009 May;150(5):2072-9. doi: 10.1210/en.2008-1135. Epub 2008 Dec 23.


Extracellular matrix has a beneficial impact on beta-cell spreading and function, but the underlying signaling pathways have yet to be fully elucidated. In other cell types, Rho, a well-characterized member of the family of Rho GTPases, and its effector Rho-associated kinase (ROCK), play an important role as downstream mediators of outside in signaling from extracellular matrix. Therefore, a possible role of the Rho-ROCK pathway in beta-cell spreading, actin cytoskeleton dynamics, and function was investigated. Rho was inhibited using a new cell-permeable version of C3 transferase, whereas the activity of ROCK was repressed using the specific ROCK inhibitors H-1152 and Y-27632. Inhibition of Rho and of ROCK increased spreading and improved both short-term and prolonged glucose-stimulated insulin secretion but had no impact on basal secretion. Inhibition of this pathway led to a depolymerization of the actin cytoskeleton. Furthermore, the impact of the inhibition of ROCK on stimulated insulin secretion was acute and reversible, suggesting that rapid signaling such as phosphorylation is involved. Finally, quantification of the activity of RhoA indicated that the extracellular matrix represses RhoA activity. Overall these results show for the first time that the Rho-ROCK signaling pathway contributes to the stabilization of the actin cytoskeleton and inhibits glucose-stimulated insulin secretion in primary pancreatic beta-cells. Furthermore, they indicate that inhibition of this pathway might be one of the mechanisms by which the extracellular matrix exerts its beneficial effects on pancreatic beta-cell function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 1-(5-Isoquinolinesulfonyl)-2-Methylpiperazine / analogs & derivatives
  • 1-(5-Isoquinolinesulfonyl)-2-Methylpiperazine / pharmacology
  • Actin Cytoskeleton / drug effects
  • Amides / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Glucose / pharmacology
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Insulin Secretion
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / drug effects
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / metabolism
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / physiology*
  • Male
  • Pyridines / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Time Factors
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins / physiology*
  • rho-Associated Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • rho-Associated Kinases / metabolism
  • rho-Associated Kinases / physiology*


  • 2-methyl-1-((4-methyl-5-isoquinolinyl)sulfonyl)homopiperazine
  • Amides
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Insulin
  • Pyridines
  • Y 27632
  • 1-(5-Isoquinolinesulfonyl)-2-Methylpiperazine
  • rho-Associated Kinases
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins
  • Glucose