Retinal pigment epithelium (RPE)-derived membranous debris named blebs, may accumulate and contribute to sub-RPE deposit formation, which is the earliest sign of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Oxidative injury to the RPE might play a significant role in AMD. However, the underlying mechanisms are unknown. We previously reported that hydroquinone (HQ), a major pro-oxidant in cigarette smoke, foodstuff, and atmospheric pollutants, induces actin rearrangement and membrane blebbing in RPE cells as well as sub-RPE deposits in mice. Here, we show for the first time that phosphorylated Heat shock protein 27 (Hsp27), a key regulator of actin filaments dynamics, is up-regulated in RPE from patients with AMD. Also, HQ-induced nonlethal oxidative injury led to Hsp27mRNA up-regulation, dimer formation, and Hsp27 phosphorylation in ARPE-19 cells. Furthermore, we found that a cross talk between p38 and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) mediates HQ-induced Hsp27 phosphorylation and actin aggregate formation, revealing ERK as a novel upstream mediator of Hsp27 phosphorylation. Finally, we demonstrated that Hsp25, p38, and ERK phosphorylation are increased in aging C57BL/6 mice chronically exposed to HQ, whereas Hsp25 expression is decreased. Our data suggest that phosphorylated Hsp27 might be a key mediator in AMD and HQ-induced oxidative injury to the RPE, which may provide helpful insights into the early cellular events associated with actin reorganization and bleb formation involved in sub-RPE deposits formation relevant to the pathogenesis of AMD.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine