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J Immunol. 2001 May 1;166(9):5550-6.

The vasodilator-stimulated phosphoprotein is regulated by cyclic GMP-dependent protein kinase during neutrophil spreading.

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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.


The expression and phosphorylation state of the vasodilator-stimulated phosphoprotein (VASP), a membrane-associated focal adhesion protein, was investigated in human neutrophils. Adhesion and spreading of neutrophils induced the rapid phosphorylation of VASP. The phosphorylation of VASP was dependent on cell spreading, as VASP was expressed as a dephosphorylated protein in round adherent cells and was phosphorylated at the onset of changes in cell shape from round to spread cells. Immunofluorescence microscopy demonstrated that VASP was localized at the cell cortex in round cells and redistributed to focal adhesions at the ventral surface of the cell body during cell spreading. Dual labeling of spread cells indicated that VASP was colocalized with F-actin in filopodia and in focal adhesions, suggesting that the phosphorylation of VASP during cell spreading may be involved in focal adhesion complex organization and actin dynamics. VASP is a prominent substrate for both cGMP-dependent protein kinase (cGK) and cAMP-dependent protein kinase. Evidence suggested that cGK regulated neutrophil spreading, as both VASP phosphorylation and neutrophil spreading were inhibited by Rp-8-pCPT-cGMPS (cGK inhibitor), but not KT5720 (cAMP-dependent protein kinase inhibitor). In contrast, neutrophil spreading was accelerated when cGMP levels were elevated with 8-Br-cGMP, a direct activator of cGK. Furthermore, the same conditions that lead to VASP phosphorylation during neutrophil adherence and spreading induced significant elevations of cGMP in neutrophils. These results indicate that cGMP/cGK signal transduction is required for neutrophil spreading, and that VASP is a target for cGK regulation.

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