Rationale In normal and diseased vascular smooth muscle (SM), the RhoA pathway, which is activated by multiple agonists through G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), plays a central role in regulating basal tone and peripheral resistance. This occurs through inhibition of myosin light chain phosphatase, leading to increased phosphorylation of the myosin regulatory light chain. Although it is thought that specific agonists and GPCRs may couple to distinct RhoA guanine nucleotide exchange factors (GEFs), thus raising the possibility of selective targeting of specific GEFs for therapeutic use, this notion is largely unexplored for SM contraction. Objective: We examine whether p63RhoGEF, known to couple specifically to G αq/11 in vitro, is functional in blood vessels as a mediator of RhoA activation and if it is selectively activated by G αq/11 coupled agonists. Methods and Results: We find that p63RhoGEF is present across SM tissues and demonstrate that silencing of the endogenous p63RhoGEF in mouse portal vein inhibits contractile force induced by endothelin-1 to a greater extent than the predominantly Gα12/13-mediated thromboxane analog U46619. This is because endothelin-1 acts on G αq/11 as well as Gα12/13. Introduction of the exogenous isolated pleckstrin-homology (PH) domain of p63RhoGEF (residues 331-580) into permeabilized rabbit portal vein inhibited Ca sensitized force and activation of RhoA, when phenylephrine was used as an agonist. This reinforces the results based on endothelin-1, because phenylephrine is thought to act exclusively through G αq/11. Conclusion: We demonstrate that p63RhoGEF selectively couples G αq/11 but not Gα12/13, to RhoA activation in blood vessels and cultured cells and thus mediates the physiologically important Ca sensitization of force induced with G αq/11-coupled agonists. Our results suggest that signaling through p63RhoGEF provides a novel mechanism for selective regulation of blood pressure.
- signal transduction
- vascular smooth muscle
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine