We investigated whether the diabetes-related PKCb activation affects VEGF expression through the mRNA-stabilizing human embryonic lethal abnormal vision (ELAV) protein, HuR, in the retina of streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetic rats. Diabetes was induced in rats by STZ injection. Retinal tissues were processed to detect PKCbI, PKCbII, VEGF and HuR contents, as well as HuR phosphorylation. Immunoprecipitation coupled to RT-PCR was employed to evaluate HuR binding to VEGF mRNA in RiboNucleoProteic (RNP) complexes. Statistical analysis was performed by ANOVA followed by an appropriate post hoc comparison test. Following experimental diabetes PKCbI and PKCbII levels were increased compared to sham; there was also a PKC-mediated phosphorylation/activation of HuR. These effects were blunted by the in vivo co-administration of a selective PKCb inhibitor. A specific binding between the HuR protein and the VEGF mRNA was also detected. The PKCb/HuR activation was accompanied by enhanced VEGF protein expression that was, again, blunted by the PKCb inhibitor. These findings first demonstrate the activation, in the retina, of the PKCb/HuR/VEGF pathway following experimental diabetes and disclose a new potential pharmacological target to counteract pathologies implicating VEGF deregulation, such as diabetic retinopathy.
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