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J Biol Chem. 1999 Jul 16;274(29):20144-50.

Shear stress-mediated extracellular signal-regulated kinase activation is regulated by sodium in endothelial cells. Potential role for a voltage-dependent sodium channel.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195, USA.


Fluid shear stress is an important regulator of endothelial cell (EC) function. To determine whether mechanosensitive ion channels participate in the EC response to shear stress, we characterized the role of ion transport in shear stress-mediated extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK1/2) stimulation. Replacement of all extracellular Na+ with either N-methyl-D-glucamine or choline chloride increased the ERK1/2 stimulation in response to shear stress by 1.89 +/- 0.1-fold. The Na+ effect was concentration-dependent (maximal effect, </=12.5 mM) and was specific for shear stress-mediated ERK1/2 activation as epidermal growth factor-stimulated ERK1/2 activation was unaffected by removal of extracellular Na+. Shear stress-mediated ERK1/2 activation was potentiated by the voltage-gated sodium channel antagonist, tetrodotoxin (100 nM), to a magnitude similar to that achieved with extracellular Na+ withdrawal. Transfection of Chinese hamster ovary cells with a rat brain type IIa voltage-gated sodium channel completely inhibited shear stress-mediated ERK1/2 activation in these cells. Inhibition was reversed by performing the experiment in sodium-free buffer or by including tetrodotoxin in the buffer. Western blotting of bovine and human EC lysates with SP19 antibody detected a 250-kDa protein consistent with the voltage-gated sodium channel. Degenerate polymerase chain reaction of cDNA from primary human EC yielded transcripts whose sequences were identical to the sodium channel SCN4a and SCN8a alpha subunit genes. These results indicate that shear stress-mediated ERK1/2 activation is regulated by extracellular sodium and demonstrate that ion transport via Na+ channels modulates EC responses to shear stress.

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