Research Summary: A High Throughput Screen Identifies Chemical Modulators of the Laminin-Induced Clustering of Dystroglycan and Aquaporin-4 in Primary Astrocytes



Aquaporin-4 (AQP4) constitutes the principal water channel in the brain and is clusteredat the perivascular astrocyte endfeet. This specific distribution of AQP4 plays a major role in maintaining water homeostasis in the brain. A growing body of evidence points to a role ofthe dystroglycan complex and its interaction with perivascular laminin in the clusteringof AQP4 atperivascular astrocyte endfeet. Indeed, mice lacking components of this complex or in which laminin-dystroglycan interaction is disrupted show a delayed onset of brain edema due to a redistribution of AQP4 away from astrocyte endfeet. It is therefore important to identify inhibitory drugs of laminin-dependent AQP4 clustering which may prevent or reduce brain edema.

Methodolgy/Principal Findings

In the present study we used primary rat astrocyte cultures toscreen a library of >3,500 chemicals and identified 6 drugs that inhibit the laminin-induced clustering of dystroglycan and AQP4. Detailed analysis of the inhibitory drug, chloranil, revealed that its inhibition of the clustering is due to the metalloproteinase-2-mediated ß-dystroglycan shedding and subsequent loss of laminin interaction with dystroglycan. Furthermore, chemical variants of chloranil induced a similar effect on ß-dystroglycan and this was prevented by the antioxidant N-acetylcysteine.


These findings reveal the mechanism of action of chloranil in preventing the laminin-induced clustering of dystroglycan and AQP4 and validate the use of high-throughput screening as a tool to identify drugs that modulate AQP4 clustering and that could be tested in models of brain edema.


Publisher: Public Library of Science

Date Published: 7-March-2011

Author(s): Noël G., Stevenson S., Moukhles H.


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