LIM Kinase, a newly identified regulator of presynaptic remodeling by rod photoreceptors after injury

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PURPOSE. Rod photoreceptors retract their axon terminals and develop neuritic sprouts in response to retinal detachment and reattachment, respectively. This study examines the role of LIM kinase (LIMK), a component of RhoA and Rac pathways, in the presynaptic structural remodeling of rod photoreceptors. METHODS. Phosphorylated LIMK (p-LIMK), the active form of LIMK, was examined in salamander retina with Western blot and confocal microscopy. Axon length within the first 7 hours and process growth after 3 days of culture were assessed in isolated rod photoreceptors treated with inhibitors of upstream regulators ROCK and p21-activated kinase (Pak) (Y27632 and IPA-3) and a direct LIMK inhibitor (BMS-5). Porcine retinal explants were also treated with BMS-5 and analyzed 24 hours after detachment. Because Ca2+ influx contributes to axonal retraction, L-type channels were blocked in some experiments with nicardipine. RESULTS. Phosphorylated LIMK is present in rod terminals during retraction and in newly formed processes. Axonal retraction over 7 hours was significantly reduced by inhibition of LIMK or its regulators, ROCK and Pak. Process growth was reduced by LIMK or Pak inhibition especially at the basal (axon-bearing) region of the rod cells. Combining Ca2+ channel and LIMK inhibition had no additional effect on retraction but did further inhibit sprouting after 3 days. In detached porcine retina, LIMK inhibition reduced rod axonal retraction and improved retinal morphology. CONCLUSIONS. Thus structural remodeling, in the form of either axonal retraction or neuritic growth, requires LIMK activity. LIM kinase inhibition may have therapeutic potential for reducing pathologic rod terminal plasticity after retinal injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7847-7858
Number of pages12
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number13
StatePublished - Dec 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


  • Axon retraction
  • LIM kinase
  • Retinal detachment
  • Rho signaling
  • Rod photoreceptors


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