Nicholas A Delamere

Nicholas A Delamere

Department Head, Physiology
Professor, Physiology
Professor, Ophthalmology
Member of the Graduate Faculty
Professor, BIO5 Institute
Primary Department
Department Affiliations
(520) 626-6425

Research Interest

Nicholas Delamere, Ph.D., studies how ocular pressure (pressure in the eye) is controlled and the way cells transport fluid, and seeks to find methods to regulate the mechanisms involved. His goal is to develop drugs that reduce intraocular pressure, thereby decreasing the severity of glaucoma and damage to the retina. His cataract research also offers a promising model for tissue preservation, which will delay the onset of cataracts.


Gao, J., Sun, X., White, T. W., Delamere, N. A., & Mathias, R. T. (2015). Feedback Regulation of Intracellular Hydrostatic Pressure in Surface Cells of the Lens. Biophysical journal, 109(9), 1830-9.

In wild-type lenses from various species, an intracellular hydrostatic pressure gradient goes from ∼340 mmHg in central fiber cells to 0 mmHg in surface cells. This gradient drives a center-to-surface flow of intracellular fluid. In lenses in which gap-junction coupling is increased, the central pressure is lower, whereas if gap-junction coupling is reduced, the central pressure is higher but surface pressure is always zero. Recently, we found that surface cell pressure was elevated in PTEN null lenses. This suggested disruption of a feedback control system that normally maintained zero surface cell pressure. Our purpose in this study was to investigate and characterize this feedback control system. We measured intracellular hydrostatic pressures in mouse lenses using a microelectrode/manometer-based system. We found that all feedback went through transport by the Na/K ATPase, which adjusted surface cell osmolarity such that pressure was maintained at zero. We traced the regulation of Na/K ATPase activity back to either TRPV4, which sensed positive pressure and stimulated activity, or TRPV1, which sensed negative pressure and inhibited activity. The inhibitory effect of TRPV1 on Na/K pumps was shown to signal through activation of the PI3K/AKT axis. The stimulatory effect of TRPV4 was shown in previous studies to go through a different signal transduction path. Thus, there is a local two-legged feedback control system for pressure in lens surface cells. The surface pressure provides a pedestal on which the pressure gradient sits, so surface pressure determines the absolute value of pressure at each radial location. We speculate that the absolute value of intracellular pressure may set the radial gradient in the refractive index, which is essential for visual acuity.

Gozdz, A., Vashishta, A., Kalita, K., Szatmari, E., Zheng, J. J., Tamiya, S., Delamere, N. A., & Hetman, M. (2008). Cisplatin-mediated activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinases 1/2 (ERK1/2) by inhibition of ERK1/2 phosphatases. Journal of neurochemistry, 106(5), 2056-67.

The mechanism(s) underlying neurodegeneration-associated activation of ERK1/2 remain poorly understood. We report that in cultured rat cortical neurons, whose basal ERK1/2 phosphorylation required NMDA receptors (NMDAR), the neurotoxic DNA intercalating drug cisplatin increased ERK1/2 phosphorylation via NMDAR despite reducing their activity. The rate of ERK1/2 dephosphorylation was lowered by cisplatin. Cisplatin-treated neurons showed general transcription inhibition likely accounting for the reduced expression of the ERK1/2-selective phosphatases including the dual specificity phosphatase-6 (DUSP6) and the DUSP3 activator vaccinia-related kinase-3 (VRK3). Hence, cisplatin effects on ERK1/2 may be due to the deficient ERK1/2 inhibition by the transcription-regulated phosphatases. Indeed, the transcription inhibitor actinomycin D reduced expression of DUSP6 and VRK3 while inducing the NMDAR-dependent activation of ERK1/2 and the impairment of ERK1/2 dephosphorylation. Thus, cisplatin-mediated transcriptional inhibition of ERK1/2 phosphatases contributed to delayed and long lasting accumulation of phospho-ERK1/2 that was driven by the basal NMDAR activity. Our results provide the first direct evidence for transcriptionally-regulated inactivation of neuronal ERK1/2. Its disruption likely contributes to neurodegeneration-associated activation of ERK1/2.

Mandal, A., Shahidullah, M., Delamere, N. A., & Terán, M. A. (2009). Elevated hydrostatic pressure activates sodium/hydrogen exchanger-1 in rat optic nerve head astrocytes. American journal of physiology. Cell physiology, 297(1), C111-20.

Optic nerve head astrocytes become abnormal in eyes that have elevated intraocular pressure, and cultured astrocytes display altered protein expression after being subjected for > or = 1 days to elevated hydrostatic pressure. Here we show that 2-h elevated hydrostatic pressure (15 or 30 mmHg) causes phosphorylation of ERK1/2, ribosomal S6 protein kinase (p90(RSK)), and Na/H exchanger (NHE)1 in cultured rat optic nerve head astrocytes as judged by Western blot analysis. The MEK/ERK inhibitor U0126 abolished phosphorylation of NHE1 and p90(RSK) as well as ERK1/2. To examine NHE1 activity, cytoplasmic pH (pH(i)) was measured with BCECF and, in some experiments, cells were acidified by 5-min exposure to 20 mM ammonium chloride. Although baseline pH(i) was unaltered, the rate of pH(i) recovery from acidification was fourfold higher in pressure-treated astrocytes. In the presence of either U0126 or dimethylamiloride (DMA), an NHE inhibitor, hydrostatic pressure did not change the rate of pH(i) recovery. The findings are consistent with NHE1 activation due to phosphorylation of ERK1/2, p90(RSK), and NHE1 that occurs in response to hydrostatic pressure. These responses may precede long-term changes of protein expression known to occur in pressure-stressed astrocytes.

Holthouser, K. A., Mandal, A., Merchant, M. L., Schelling, J. R., Delamere, N. A., Valdes, R. R., Tyagi, S. C., Lederer, E. D., & Khundmiri, S. J. (2010). Ouabain stimulates Na-K-ATPase through a sodium/hydrogen exchanger-1 (NHE-1)-dependent mechanism in human kidney proximal tubule cells. American journal of physiology. Renal physiology, 299(1), F77-90.

Recent investigations demonstrate increased Na/H exchanger-1 (NHE-1) activity and plasma levels of ouabain-like factor in spontaneously hypertensive rats. At nanomolar concentrations, ouabain increases Na-K-ATPase activity, induces cell proliferation, and activates complex signaling cascades. We hypothesize that the activity of NHE-1 and Na-K-ATPase are interdependent. To test whether treatment with picomolar ouabain regulates Na-K-ATPase through an NHE-1-dependent mechanism, we examined the role of NHE-1 in ouabain-mediated stimulation of Na-K-ATPase in kidney proximal tubule cell lines [opossum kidney (OK), HK-2, HKC-5, and HKC-11] and rat kidney basolateral membranes. Ouabain stimulated Na-K-ATPase activity and tyrosine phosphorylation in cells that express NHE-1 (OK, HKC-5, and HKC-11) but not in HK-2 cells that express very low levels of NHE-1. Inhibition of NHE-1 with 5 microM EIPA, a NHE-1-specific inhibitor, prevented ouabain-mediated stimulation of (86)Rb uptake and Na-K-ATPase phosphorylation in OK, HKC-5, and HKC-11 cells. Expression of wild-type NHE-1 in HK2 cells restored regulation of Na-K-ATPase by picomolar ouabain. Treatment with picomolar ouabain increased membrane expression of Na-K-ATPase and enhanced NHE-1-Na-K-ATPase alpha1-subunit association. Treatment with ouabain (1 microg x kg body wt(-1) x day(-1)) increased Na-K-ATPase activity, expression, phosphorylation, and association with NHE-1 increased in rat kidney cortical basolateral membranes. Eight days' treatment with ouabain (1 microg x kg body wt(-1) x day(-1)) resulted in increased blood pressure in these rats. These results suggest that the association of NHE-1 with Na-K-ATPase is critical for ouabain-mediated regulation of Na-K-ATPase and that these effects may play a role in cardioglycoside-stimulated hypertension.

Delamere, N. A., & Paterson, C. A. (1982). Studies on calcium regulation in relation to sodium-potassium balance in the rabbit lens. Ophthalmic research, 14(3), 230-40.

Net changes in the levels of lens calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, and water content were determined following exposure in vitro to iodoacetate, ouabain, lanthanum, cyanide, quercetin and cold temperature. The lens calcium content rose following inhibition of lens metabolism but did not change following specific inhibition of the sodium pump. The data revealed that regulation of the lens calcium balance is largely independent of lens sodium and potassium content. A greater increase in lens sodium content upon iodoacetate treatment vs. ouabain treatment is discussed in relation to the elevation of lens calcium.