An essential regulator of cytoskeletal dynamics during the process of neurite extension is rho-associated protein kinase. However, whether Rho kinase regulates microtubule remodeling or the distribution of adhesive proteins to mediate neurite outgrowth remains unclear.
By using the ROCK inhibitor, Y-27632, and the agonist, lysophosphatidic acid, Kenen Chen and colleagues from First Affiliated Hospital of Jinan University in China observed that neurite outgrowth, microtubule remodeling and vinculin redistribution were tightly regulated by ROCK. They found that lysophosphatidic acid inhibited neurite outgrowth, which could be reversed by Y-27632.
Meanwhile, reorganization of microtubules was noticed during these processes, as indicated by their significant changes in the soma and growth cone. These findings, published in the Neural Regeneration Research (Vol. 8, No. 32, 2013), suggest that Rho kinase regulates rat hippocampal neurite growth and microtubule formation via a mechanism associated with the redistribution of vinculin.