Mechanosensitive channel inhibition attenuates TGFβ2-induced actin cytoskeletal remodeling and reactivity in mouse optic nerve head astrocytes

Alexander Kirschner, Ana N. Strat, John Yablonski, Hannah Yoo, Tyler Bagué, Haiyan Li, Jing Zhao, Kathryn E. Bollinger, Samuel Herberg, Preethi S. Ganapathy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Astrocytes within the optic nerve head undergo actin cytoskeletal rearrangement early in glaucoma, which coincides with astrocyte reactivity and extracellular matrix (ECM) deposition. Elevated transforming growth factor beta 2 (TGFβ2) levels within astrocytes have been described in glaucoma, and TGFβ signaling induces actin cytoskeletal remodeling and ECM deposition in many tissues. A key mechanism by which astrocytes sense and respond to external stimuli is via mechanosensitive ion channels. Here, we tested the hypothesis that inhibition of mechanosensitive channels will attenuate TGFβ2-mediated optic nerve head astrocyte actin cytoskeletal remodeling, reactivity, and ECM deposition. Primary optic nerve head astrocytes were isolated from C57BL/6J mice and cell purity was confirmed by immunostaining. Astrocytes were treated with vehicle control, TGFβ2 (5 ng/ml), GsMTx4 (a mechanosensitive channel inhibitor; 500 nM), or TGFβ2 (5 ng/ml) + GsMTx4 (500 nM) for 48 h. FITC-phalloidin staining was used to assess the formation of f-actin stress fibers and to quantify the presence of crosslinked actin networks (CLANs). Cell reactivity was determined by immunostaining and immunoblotting for GFAP. Levels of fibronectin and collagen IV deposition were also quantified. Primary optic nerve head astrocytes were positive for the astrocyte marker GFAP and negative for markers for microglia (F4/80) and oligodendrocytes (OSP1). Significantly increased %CLAN-positive cells were observed after 48-h treatment with TGFβ2 vs. control in a dose-dependent manner. Co-treatment with GsMTx4 significantly decreased %CLAN-positive cells vs. TGFβ2 treatment and the presence of f-actin stress fibers. TGFβ2 treatment significantly increased GFAP, fibronectin, and collagen IV levels, and GsMTx4 co-treatment ameliorated GFAP immunoreactivity. Our data suggest inhibition of mechanosensitive channel activity as a potential therapeutic strategy to modulate actin cytoskeletal remodeling within the optic nerve head in glaucoma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number108791
JournalExperimental eye research
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • CLAN
  • Cross-linked actin networks
  • Extracellular matrix
  • Fibronectin
  • Glaucoma
  • Gliosis
  • POAG
  • Transforming growth factor beta 2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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