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Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2004 May;286(5):H1801-10. Epub 2004 Jan 2.

Dynamic changes in expression of myosin phosphatase in a model of portal hypertension.

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  • 1Departments of Medicine and Physiology, Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, Cleveland, Ohio 44106-4958, USA.


Myosin phosphatase is a target for signaling pathways that modulate calcium sensitivity of force production in smooth muscle. Myosin phosphatase targeting subunit 1 (MYPT1) isoforms are generated by cassette-type alternative splicing of exons in the central and 3' portion of the transcript. Exclusion of the 3' alternative exon, coding for the leucine zipper (LZ)-positive MYPT1 isoform, is associated with the ability to desensitize to calcium (relax) in response to NO/cGMP-dependent signaling. We examined expression of MYPT1 isoforms and smooth muscle phenotype in normal rat vessels and in a prehepatic model of portal hypertension characterized by arteriolar dilation. The large capacitance vessels, aorta, pulmonary artery, and inferior vena cava expressed predominantly the 3' exon-out/LZ-positive MYPT1 isoform. The first-order mesenteric resistance artery (MA1) and portal vein (PV) expressed severalfold higher levels of MYPT1 with predominance of the 3' exon-included/LZ-negative isoform. There was minor variation in the presence of the MYPT1 central alternative exons. Myosin heavy and light chain splice variants in part cosegregated with MYPT1 isoforms. In response to portal hypertension induced by PV ligature, abundance of MYPT1 in PV and MA1 was significantly reduced and switched to the LZ-positive isoform. These changes were evident within 1 day of PV ligature and were maintained for up to 10 days before reverting to control values at day 14. Alteration of MYPT1 expression was part of a complex change in protein expression that can be generalized as a modulation from a phasic (fast) to a tonic (slow) contractile phenotype. Implications of vascular smooth muscle phenotypic diversity and reversible phenotypic modulation in portal hypertension with regards to regulation of blood flow are discussed.

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