Local effects of pregnancy on connexin proteins that mediate Ca2+-associated uterine endothelial NO synthesis.
ABSTRACT: Uterine artery adaptations during gestation facilitate increases in uterine blood flow and fetal growth.local expression and distribution of uterine artery connexins play roles in mediating in vivo gestational eNOS activation and NO production. We established an ovine model restricting pregnancy to a single uterine horn and measured uterine blood flow, uterine artery shear stress, connexins 37/43, and P(635)eNOS protein levels in uterine artery and systemic artery (omental and renal) endothelium and connexins in vascular smooth muscle. Uterine blood flow and shear stress were locally (unilaterally) and substantially elevated by gestation. During pregnancy, uterine artery endothelial gap junction proteins connexins 37/43 were locally regulated in the gravid horn and elevated 10.3- and 25.6-fold; uterine artery endothelial P(635)eNOS and total eNOS were elevated 3.3- and 2.9-fold; whereas uterine artery vascular smooth muscle connexins 37/43 were locally elevated 12.5- and 5.9-fold, respectively. Less pronounced changes were observed in systemic vasculature except for significant pregnancy-associated increases in omental artery vascular smooth muscle connexin 43 and omental artery endothelial P(635)eNOS and total eNOS. Gap junction blockade using connexin 43, but not connexin 37-specific Gap peptides, abrogated uterine artery endothelial ATP-induced Ca(2+)-mediated NO production. Thus, uterine artery endothelial connexin 43, but not connexin 37, regulates Ca(2+)-mediated NO production required for the vasodilation to accommodate increases in uterine blood flow and shear stress during healthy pregnancies.
Project description:During pregnancy, VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) regulates in part endothelial angiogenesis and vasodilation. In the present study we examine the relative roles of VEGFRs (VEGF receptors) and associated signalling pathways mediating the effects of VEGF(165) on eNOS (endothelial nitric oxide synthase) activation. Despite equal expression levels of VEGFR-1 and VEGFR-2 in UAECs (uterine artery endothelial cells) from NP (non-pregnant) and P (pregnant) sheep, VEGF(165) activates eNOS at a greater level in P- compared with NP-UAEC, independently of Akt activation. The selective VEGFR-1 agonist PlGF (placental growth factor)-1 elicits only a modest activation of eNOS in P-UAECs compared with VEGF(165), whereas the VEGFR-2 kinase inhibitor blocks VEGF(165)-stimulated eNOS activation, suggesting VEGF(165) predominantly activates eNOS via VEGFR-2. Although VEGF(165) also activates ERK (extracellular-signal-regulated kinase)-1/2, this is not necessary for eNOS activation since U0126 blocks ERK-1/2 phosphorylation, but not eNOS activation, and the VEGFR-2 kinase inhibitor inhibits eNOS activation, but not ERK-1/2 phosphorylation. Furthermore, the inability of PlGF to activate ERK-1/2 and the ability of the VEGFR-2 selective agonist VEGF-E to activate ERK-1/2 and eNOS suggests again that both eNOS and ERK-1/2 activation occur predominantly via VEGFR-2. The lack of VEGF(165)-stimulated Akt phosphorylation is consistent with a lack of robust phosphorylation of Ser(1179)-eNOS. Although VEGF(165)-stimulated eNOS phosphorylation is observed at Ser(617) and Ser(635), pregnancy does not significantly alter this response. Our finding that VEGF(165) activation of eNOS is completely inhibited by wortmannin but not LY294002 implies a downstream kinase, possibly a wortmannin-selective PI3K (phosphoinositide 3-kinase), is acting between the VEGFR-2 and eNOS independently of Akt.
Project description:MicroRNA is expected to be a novel therapeutic tool for tumors. Gap junctions facilitate the transfer of microRNA, which exerts biological effects on tumor cells. However, the length of microRNA that can pass through certain gap junctions composed of specific connexin remains unknown. To address this question, the present study investigated the permeability of gap junctions composed of various connexins, including connexin 43, connexin 32 or connexin 37, to microRNAs consisting of 18-27 nucleotides in glioma cells and cervical cancer cells. Results indicated that all of the microRNAs were able to be transferred from donor glioma cells to neighboring cells through the connexin 43 composed gap junction, but not the gap junctions composed of connexin 32 or connexin 37, in cervical cancer cells. Downregulation of the function of gap junctions comprising connexin 43 by pharmacological inhibition and shRNA significantly decreased the transfer of these microRNAs. In contrast, gap junction enhancers and overexpression of connexin 43 effectively increased these transfers. In glioma cells, cell proliferation was inhibited by microRNA-34a. Additionally, these effects of microRNA-34a were significantly enhanced by overexpression of connexin 43 in U251 cells, indicating that gap junctions play an important role in the antitumor effect of microRNA by transfer of microRNA to neighboring cells. Our data are the first to clarify the pattern of microRNA transmission through gap junctions and provide novel insights to show that antitumor microRNAs should be combined with connexin 43 or a connexin 43 enhancer, not connexin 32 or connexin 37, in order to improve the therapeutic effect.
Project description:Endothelial nitric-oxide synthase (eNOS) plays a central role in cardiovascular regulation. eNOS function is critically modulated by Ca(2+) and protein phosphorylation, but the interrelationship between intracellular Ca(2+) mobilization and eNOS phosphorylation is poorly understood. Here we show that endoplasmic reticulum (ER) Ca(2+) release activates eNOS by selectively promoting its Ser-635/633 (bovine/human) phosphorylation. With bovine endothelial cells, thapsigargin-induced ER Ca(2+) release caused a dose-dependent increase in eNOS Ser-635 phosphorylation, leading to elevated NO production. ER Ca(2+) release also promoted eNOS Ser-633 phosphorylation in mouse vessels in vivo. This effect was independent of extracellular Ca(2+) and selective to Ser-635 because the phosphorylation status of other eNOS sites, including Ser-1179 or Thr-497, was unaffected in thapsigargin-treated cells. Blocking ERK1/2 abolished ER Ca(2+) release-induced eNOS Ser-635 phosphorylation, whereas inhibiting protein kinase A or Ca(2+)/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II had no effect. Protein phosphorylation assay confirmed that ERK1/2 directly phosphorylated the eNOS Ser-635 residue in vitro. Further studies demonstrated that ER Ca(2+) release-induced ERK1/2 activation mediated the enhancing action of purine or bradykinin receptor stimulation on eNOS Ser-635/633 phosphorylation in bovine/human endothelial cells. Mutating the Ser-635 to nonphosphorylatable alanine prevented ATP from activating eNOS in cells. Taken together, these studies reveal that ER Ca(2+) release enhances eNOS Ser-635 phosphorylation and function via ERK1/2 activation. Because ER Ca(2+) is commonly mobilized by agonists or physicochemical stimuli, the identified ER Ca(2+)-ERK1/2-eNOS Ser-635 phosphorylation pathway may have a broad role in the regulation of endothelial function.
Project description:Normal pregnancy requires increased uterine endothelial cell driven vasodilation that is related to increases in sustained Ca2+ signaling via increased connexin 43 (Cx43) gap junction function. Preeclampsia, a hypertensive disorder of pregnancy associated with endothelial dysfunction, is also linked with down regulation of Ca2+ driven vasodilator production and increased levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Cx43 function can be acutely down-regulated by phosphorylation of multiple inhibitory residues and VEGF is known to promote phosphorylation of Cx43. Herein, we show that VEGF-165 promotes Cx43 phosphorylation at Ser-279/282 and Tyr-265 residues and blocks pregnancy-adapted Ca2+ signaling in ovine uterine artery endothelial cells (UAEC). Pharmacological Src and ERK kinase pathway inhibitors (PP2 and U0126) reverse these phosphorylations and rescue Ca2+ signaling. We also report a nutraceutical Src inhibitor, t10,c12 conjugated linoleic acid (10,12 CLA), rescues Ca2+ signaling in UAEC and therefore may have therapeutic potential for preeclampsia.
Project description:Different pathways contribute to the turnover of connexins, the main structural components of gap junctions (GJs). The cellular pool of connexins targeted to each pathway and the functional consequences of degradation through these degradative pathways are unknown. In this work, we focused on the contribution of macroautophagy to connexin degradation. Using pharmacological and genetic blockage of macroautophagy both in vitro and in vivo, we found that the cellular pool targeted by this autophagic system is primarily the one organized into GJs. Interruption of connexins' macroautophagy resulted in their retention at the plasma membrane in the form of functional GJs and subsequent increased GJ-mediated intercellular diffusion. Up-regulation of macroautophagy alone is not sufficient to induce connexin internalization and degradation. To better understand what factors determine the autophagic degradation of GJ connexins, we analyzed the changes undergone by the fraction of plasma membrane connexin 43 targeted for macroautophagy and the sequence of events that trigger this process. We found that Nedd4-mediated ubiquitinylation of the connexin molecule is required to recruit the adaptor protein Eps15 to the GJ and to initiate the autophagy-dependent internalization and degradation of connexin 43. This study reveals a novel regulatory role for macroautophagy in GJ function that is directly dependent on the ubiquitinylation of plasma membrane connexins.
Project description:Preeclampsia (PE) and fetal growth restriction (FGR) contribute significantly to fetal and maternal morbidity and mortality. Although the causes of PE and FGR are not fully understood, both conditions are known to be associated with impaired uterine artery blood flow. Resveratrol, a polyphenol found in a number of plants, has been shown to induce relaxation of uterine arteries in vitro as well as improve many pathological conditions associated with PE and FGR. We hypothesized that treatment of endothelial nitric oxide synthase knockout mice (eNOS?/?) and catechol-O-methyltransferase knockout mice (COMT?/?) with resveratrol during pregnancy would improve uterine artery blood flow and therefore ameliorate the PE-like phenotype and FGR in these murine models. Pregnant C57BL/6J, eNOS?/? and COMT?/? mice received either resveratrol supplemented diet (4 g/kg diet) or control diet between gestational day (GD) 0.5 and GD 18.5. Resveratrol supplementation significantly increased uterine artery blood flow velocity and fetal weight in COMT?/? but not in eNOS?/? mice. There were no effects of resveratrol on litter size and placental weight among the groups. In conclusion, resveratrol increased uterine artery blood flow velocity and fetal weight in COMT?/? mice, suggesting potential as a therapeutic strategy for PE and FGR.
Project description:Connexins are widely distributed proteins in the body that are crucially important for heart and brain functions. Six connexin subunits form a connexon or hemichannel in the plasma membrane. Interactions between two hemichannels in a head-to-head arrangement result in the formation of a gap junction channel. Gap junctions are necessary to coordinate cell function by passing electrical current flow between heart and nerve cells or by allowing exchange of chemical signals and energy substrates. Apart from its localization at the sarcolemma of cardiomyocytes and brain cells, connexins are also found in the mitochondria where they are involved in the regulation of mitochondrial matrix ion fluxes and respiration. Connexin expression is affected by age and gender as well as several pathophysiological alterations such as hypertension, hypertrophy, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, ischemia, post-myocardial infarction remodeling or heart failure, and post-translationally connexins are modified by phosphorylation/de-phosphorylation and nitros(yl)ation which can modulate channel activity. Using knockout/knockin technology as well as pharmacological approaches, one of the connexins, namely connexin 43, has been identified to be important for cardiac and brain ischemia/reperfusion injuries as well as protection from it. Therefore, the current review will focus on the importance of connexin 43 for irreversible injury of heart and brain tissues following ischemia/reperfusion and will highlight the importance of connexin 43 as an emerging therapeutic target in cardio- and neuroprotection.
Project description:ADP responses underlie therapeutic approaches to many cardiovascular diseases, and ADP receptor antagonists are in widespread clinical use. The role of ADP in platelet biology has been extensively studied, yet ADP signaling pathways in endothelial cells remain incompletely understood. We found that ADP promoted phosphorylation of the endothelial isoform of nitric-oxide synthase (eNOS) at Ser(1179) and Ser(635) and dephosphorylation at Ser(116) in cultured endothelial cells. Although eNOS activity was stimulated by both ADP and ATP, only ADP signaling was significantly inhibited by the P2Y(1) receptor antagonist MRS 2179 or by knockdown of P2Y(1) using small interfering RNA (siRNA). ADP activated the small GTPase Rac1 and promoted endothelial cell migration. siRNA-mediated knockdown of Rac1 blocked ADP-dependent eNOS Ser(1179) and Ser(635) phosphorylation, as well as eNOS activation. We analyzed pathways known to regulate eNOS, including phosphoinositide 3-kinase/Akt, ERK1/2, Src, and calcium/calmodulin-dependent kinase kinase-beta (CaMKKbeta) using the inhibitors wortmannin, PD98059, PP2, and STO-609, respectively. None of these inhibitors altered ADP-modulated eNOS phosphorylation. In contrast, siRNA-mediated knockdown of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) inhibited ADP-dependent eNOS Ser(635) phosphorylation and eNOS activity but did not affect eNOS Ser(1179) phosphorylation. Importantly, the AMPK enzyme inhibitor compound C had no effect on ADP-stimulated eNOS activity, despite completely blocking AMPK activity. CaMKKbeta knockdown suppressed ADP-stimulated eNOS activity, yet inhibition of CaMKKbeta kinase activity using STO-609 failed to affect eNOS activation by ADP. These data suggest that the expression, but not the kinase activity, of AMPK and CaMKKbeta is necessary for ADP signaling to eNOS.
Project description:Impaired expression of connexins, the gap junction subunits that facilitate direct cell-cell communication, have been implicated in prostate cancer growth. To elucidate the crucial role of connexins in prostate cancer progression, we performed a systematic quantitative RT-PCR screening of connexin expression in four representative prostate cancer cell lines across the spectrum of malignancy. Transcripts of several connexin subunits were detected in all four cell lines, and connexin 43 (Cx43) showed marked elevation at both RNA and protein levels in cells with increased metastatic potential. Analysis of gap-junction-mediated intercellular communication revealed homocellular coupling in PC-3 cells, which had the highest C x 43 expression, with minimal coupling in LNCaP cells where C x 43 expression was very low. Treatment with the gap junction inhibitor carbenoxolone or connexin mimetic peptide ACT-1 did not impair cell growth, suggesting that growth is independent of functional gap junctions. PC-3 cells with C x 43 expression reduced by shRNA showed decreased migration in monolayer wound healing assay, as well as decreased transwell invasion capacities when compared to control cells expressing non-targeting shRNA. These results, together with the correlation between C x 43 expression levels and the metastatic capacity of the cell lines, suggest a role of C x 43 in prostate cancer invasion and metastasis.
Project description:ATP leads to endothelial NO synthase (eNOS)/NO-mediated vasodilation, a process hypothesized to depend on the endothelial caveolar eNOS partitioning and subcellular domain-specific multisite phosphorylation state. We demonstrate herein that, in both the absence and presence of ATP, the uterine artery endothelial caveolae contain specific protein machinery related to subcellular partitioning and act as specific focal "hubs" for NO- and ATP-related proteins. ATP-induced eNOS regulation showed a complex set of multisite posttranslational phosphorylation events that were closely associated with the enzyme's partitioning between caveolar and noncaveolar endothelial subcellular domains. The comprehensive model that we present demonstrates that ATP repartitioned eNOS between the caveolar and noncaveolar subcellular domains; specifically, the stimulatory (PSer635)eNOS was substantially higher in the caveolar pool with subcellular domain-independent increased levels on ATP treatment. The stimulatory (PSer1179)eNOS was not altered by ATP treatment. However, the inhibitory (PThr495)eNOS was regulated predominantly in the caveolar domain with decreased levels on ATP action. In contrast, the agonist-specific (PSer114)eNOS was localized in the noncaveolar pool with increased levels on ATP stimulation. Thus, the endothelial caveolar membrane system plays a pivotal role(s) in ATP-associated subcellular partitioning and possesses the relevant protein machinery for ATP-induced NO regulation. Furthermore, these subcellular domain-specific phosphorylation/dephosphorylation events provide evidence relating to eNOS spatio-temporal dynamics.