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World J Urol. 1994;12(5):292-7.

Regulation of actomyosin and contraction in smooth muscle.

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  • 1Department of Pathobiology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia 19104.


Unlike striated muscle cells, smooth muscle cells do not have an organized sarcomeric structure. However, all smooth muscle cells contain the contractile proteins, myosin, actin, and tropomyosin. Polymorphism of the myosin heavy chain exists in smooth muscle cells. Two myosin heavy chain (MHC) isoforms, SM1 (204 kDa) and SM2 (200 kDa), are present in smooth muscle cells; however, their ratios vary in smooth muscles from different sources. The hypertrophy of the urinary bladder induced by partial outlet obstruction in rabbits is associated with an alteration of the SM1-to-SM2 ratio from 1:3 to 1:1. Both heavy chains react with polyclonal antibody against smooth muscle myosin; however, antibody prepared against a peptide from the C-terminal region of the SM2 heavy chain cross-reacts only with the SM2 heavy chain. Removal of the obstruction reverses the bladder to normal mass with a concomitant change in the SM1-to-SM2 ratio back to 1:3. The expression of the SM1 mRNA is increased in response to obstruction-induced hypertrophy, and it also returns to normal upon removal of the obstruction. Urinary bladder smooth muscle contains predominantly gamma-actin. Obstruction-induced hypertrophy of the bladder smooth muscle is associated with an increase in the gamma-actin at both protein and mRNA levels. The beta-non-muscle actin is decreased and the alpha-smooth muscle actin is unchanged in response to obstruction-induced bladder hypertrophy. Contraction of all smooth muscles involves similar mechanisms. This review describes our current understanding of the mechanisms regulating contraction of the smooth muscle of the urinary bladder.

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