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Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2004 Jul;287(1):G202-10. Epub 2004 Feb 19.

Changes in membrane cholesterol affect caveolin-1 localization and ICC-pacing in mouse jejunum.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, University of Alberta, Rm. 9-10, Medical Sciences Bldg., Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2H7, Canada.


Pacing of mouse is dependent on the spontaneous activity of interstitial cells of Cajal in the myenteric plexus (ICC-MP). These ICC, as well as intestinal smooth muscle, contain small membrane invaginations called caveolae. Caveolae are signaling centers formed by insertions of caveolin proteins in the inner aspect of the plasma membrane. Caveolins bind signaling proteins and thereby negatively modulate their signaling. We disrupted caveolae by treating intestinal segments with methyl beta-clodextrin (CD) to remove cholesterol or with water-soluble cholesterol (WSC) to load cholesterol. Both of these treatments reduced pacing frequencies, and these effects were reversed by the other agent. These treatments also inhibited paced contractions, but complete reversal was not observed. To evaluate the specificity of the effects of CD and WSC, additional studies were made of their effects on responses to carbamoyl choline and to stimulation of cholinergic nerves. Neither of these treatments affected these sets of responses compared with their respective time controls. Immunochemical and ultrastructural studies showed that caveolin 1 was present in smooth muscle membranes and ICC-MP. CD depleted both caveolin 1 and caveolae, whereas WSC increased the amount of caveolin 1 immunoreactivity and altered its distribution but failed to increase the number of caveolae. The effects of each agent were reversed in major part by the other. We conclude that signaling through caveolae may play a role in pacing by ICC but does not affect responses to acetylcholine from nerves or when added exogenously.

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