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Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2003 Sep;285(3):L680-90. Epub 2003 May 9.

ET-1 activates Ca2+ sparks in PASMC: local Ca2+ signaling between inositol trisphosphate and ryanodine receptors.

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  • 1Div. of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Johns Hopkins Asthma and Allergy Center, 5501 Hopkins Bayview Circle, Baltimore, MD 21224, USA.


Ca+ sparks originating from ryanodine receptors (RyRs) are known to cause membrane hyperpolarization and vasorelaxation in systemic arterial myocytes. By contrast, we have found that Ca2+ sparks of pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cells (PASMCs) are associated with membrane depolarization and activated by endothelin-1 (ET-1), a potent vasoconstrictor that mediates/modulates acute and chronic hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction. In this study, we characterized the effects of ET-1 on the physical properties of Ca2+ sparks and probed the signal transduction mechanism for spark activation in rat intralobar PASMCs. Application of ET-1 at 0.1-10 nM caused concentration-dependent increases in frequency, duration, and amplitude of Ca2+ sparks. The ET-1-induced increase in spark frequency was inhibited by BQ-123, an ETA-receptor antagonist; by U-73122, a PLC inhibitor; and by xestospongin C and 2-aminoethyl diphenylborate, antagonists of inositol trisphosphate (IP3) receptors (IP3Rs). However, it was unrelated to sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ content, activation of L-type Ca2+ channels, PKC, or cADP ribose. Photorelease of caged-IP3 indicated that Ca2+ release from IP3R could cross-activate RyRs to generate Ca2+ sparks. Immunocytochemistry showed that the distributions of IP3Rs and RyRs were similar in PASMCs. Moreover, inhibition of Ca2+ sparks with ryanodine caused a significant rightward shift in the ET-1 concentration-tension relationship in pulmonary arteries. These results suggest that ET-1 activation of Ca2+ sparks is mediated via the ETA receptor-PLC-IP3 pathway and local Ca2+ cross-signaling between IP3Rs and RyRs; in addition, this novel signaling mechanism contributes significantly to the ET-1-induced vasoconstriction in pulmonary arteries.

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