Tuning of Liver Sieve: The Interplay between Actin and Myosin Regulatory Light Chain Regulates Fenestration Size and Number in Murine Liver Sinusoidal Endothelial Cells
AuthorZapotoczny, Barlomiej; Szafranska, Karolina; Lekka, Malgorzata; Ahluwalia, Balpreet Singh; McCourt, Peter Anthony
Liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSECs) facilitate the efficient transport of macromolecules and solutes between the blood and hepatocytes. The efficiency of this transport is realized via transcellular nanopores, called fenestrations. The mean fenestration size is 140 ± 20 nm, with the range from 50 nm to 350 nm being mostly below the limits of diffraction of visible light. The cellular mechanisms controlling fenestrations are still poorly understood. In this study, we tested a hypothesis that both Rho kinase (ROCK) and myosin light chain (MLC) kinase (MLCK)-dependent phosphorylation of MLC regulates fenestrations. We verified the hypothesis using a combination of several molecular inhibitors and by applying two high-resolution microscopy modalities: structured illumination microscopy (SIM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). We demonstrated precise, dose-dependent, and reversible regulation of the mean fenestration diameter within a wide range from 120 nm to 220 nm and the fine-tuning of the porosity in a range from ~0% up to 12% using the ROCK pathway. Moreover, our findings indicate that MLCK is involved in the formation of new fenestrations—after inhibiting MLCK, closed fenestrations cannot be reopened with other agents. We, therefore, conclude that the Rho-ROCK pathway is responsible for the control of the fenestration diameter, while the inhibition of MLCK prevents the formation of new fenestrations.