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Nat Cell Biol. 2001 Oct;3(10):867-73.

Endogenous nitric oxide mechanisms mediate the stretch dependence of Ca2+ release in cardiomyocytes.

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  • 1Laboratory of Cardiovascular Science, Gerontology Research Center, Intramural Research Program, National Institute on Aging, 5600 Nathan Shock Drive, Baltimore, Maryland 21224-6825, USA.


Stretching of cardiac muscle modulates contraction through the enhancement of the Ca2+ transient, but how this occurs is still not known. We found that stretching of myocytes modulates the elementary Ca2+ release process from ryanodine-receptor Ca2+-release channels (RyRCs), Ca2+ sparks and the electrically stimulated Ca2+ transient. Stretching induces PtdIns-3-OH kinase (PI(3)K)-dependent phosphorylation of both Akt and the endothelial isoform of nitric oxide synthase (NOS), nitric oxide (NO) production, and a proportionate increase in Ca2+-spark frequency that is abolished by inhibiting NOS and PI(3)K. Exogenously generated NO reversibly increases Ca2+-spark frequency without cell stretching. We propose that myocyte NO produced by activation of the PI(3)K-Akt-endothelial NOS axis acts as a second messenger of stretch by enhancing RyRC activity, contributing to myocardial contractile activation.

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