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Small GTP binding protein Ras contributes to norepinephrine-induced mitogenesis of vascular smooth muscle cells.

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Department of Pharmacology, College of Medicine, The University of Tennessee, Memphis 38163, USA.


Norepinephrine stimulates release of arachidonic acid from tissue lipids. Arachidonic acid metabolites generated through the lipoxygenase and cytochrome P-450 pathways but not cyclooxygenase stimulate mitogen activated protein (MAP) kinase activity and proliferation of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC). Moreover, norepinephrine has been shown to activate the Ras/MAP kinase pathway through generation of cytochrome P450 metabolite of arachidonic acid, 20-hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid (20-HETE). The purpose of this study was to investigate the contribution of Ras in norepinephrine-induced mitogenesis in aortic VSMC. Farnesylation of Ras by farnesyl transferase is required for its full activation. Norepinephrine-induced DNA synthesis, as measured by [3H]-thymidine incorporation, was attenuated by inhibitors of Ras farnesyl transferase FPT III and BMS-191563. These agents also inhibited 20-HETE-stimulated [3H]-thymidine incorporation. In cells transiently transfected with dominant negative Ras (RasN17), norepinephrine, and 20-HETE-induced proliferation of VSMC was attenuated. Both norepinephrine and 20-HETE increased localization of Ras to plasma membrane and MAP kinase activity; FPT III attenuated these effects. These data suggest that VSMC proliferation induced by norepinephrine and 20-HETE is mediated by Ras/MAP kinase pathway.

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