Regulator of G-Protein Signaling 5 Maintains Brain Endothelial Cell Function in Focal Cerebral Ischemia

J Am Heart Assoc. 2020 Sep 15;9(18):e017533. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.120.017533. Epub 2020 Sep 2.


Background Regulator of G-protein signaling 5 (RGS5) is a negative modulator of G-protein-coupled receptors. The role of RGS5 in brain endothelial cells is not known. We hypothesized that RGS5 in brain microvascular endothelial cells may be an important mediator of blood-brain barrier function and stroke severity after focal cerebral ischemia. Methods and Results Using a transient middle cerebral artery occlusion model, we found that mice with global and endothelial-specific deletion of Rgs5 exhibited larger cerebral infarct size, greater neurological motor deficits, and increased brain edema. In our in vitro models, we observed increased Gq activity and elevated intracellular Ca2+ levels in brain endothelial cells. Furthermore, the loss of endothelial RGS5 leads to decreased endothelial NO synthase expression and phosphorylation, relocalization of endothelial tight junction proteins, and increased cell permeability. Indeed, RGS5 deficiency leads to increased Rho-associated kinase and myosin light chain kinase activity, which were partially reversed in our in vitro model by pharmacological inhibition of Gq, metabotropic glutamate receptor 1, and ligand-gated ionotropic glutamate receptor. Conclusions Our findings indicate that endothelial RGS5 plays a novel neuroprotective role in focal cerebral ischemia. Loss of endothelial RGS5 leads to hyperresponsiveness to glutamate signaling pathways, enhanced Rho-associated kinase- and myosin light chain kinase-mediated actin-cytoskeleton reorganization, endothelial dysfunction, tight junction protein relocalization, increased blood-brain barrier permeability, and greater stroke severity. These findings suggest that preservation of endothelial RGS5 may be an important therapeutic strategy for maintaining blood-brain barrier integrity and limiting the severity of ischemic stroke.

Keywords: blood‐brain barrier; cell signaling; ischemic stroke; vascular biology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / metabolism
  • Brain Ischemia / metabolism*
  • Carotid Arteries / metabolism*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type III / metabolism
  • RGS Proteins / metabolism*
  • RGS Proteins / physiology
  • Receptors, AMPA / metabolism
  • Receptors, AMPA / physiology


  • RGS Proteins
  • Receptors, AMPA
  • Rgs5 protein, mouse
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type III
  • glutamate receptor ionotropic, AMPA 1