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Circ Res. 2007 Oct 12;101(8):830-8. Epub 2007 Aug 17.

Regulation of tetrahydrobiopterin biosynthesis by shear stress.

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Division of Cardiology, Emory University, 101 Woodruff Circle, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.


An essential cofactor for the endothelial NO synthase is tetrahydrobiopterin (H4B). In the present study, we show that in human endothelial cells, laminar shear stress dramatically increases H4B levels and enzymatic activity of GTP cyclohydrolase (GTPCH)-1, the first step of H4B biosynthesis. In contrast, protein levels of GTPCH-1 were not affected by shear. Shear did not change protein expression or activity of the downstream enzymes 6-pyruvoyl-tetrahydropterin synthase and sepiapterin reductase and decreased protein levels of the salvage enzyme dihydrofolate reductase. Oscillatory shear only modestly affected H4B levels and GPTCH-1 activity. We also demonstrate that laminar, but not oscillatory shear stress, stimulates phosphorylation of GTPCH-1 on serine 81 and that this is mediated by the alpha prime (alpha') subunit of casein kinase 2. The increase in H4B caused by shear is essential in allowing proper function of endothelial NO synthase because GPTCH-1 blockade with 2,4-diamino-6-hydroxypyrimidine during shear inhibited dimer formation of endothelial NO synthase, increased endothelial cell superoxide production, and prevented the increase in NO production caused by shear. Thus, shear stress not only increases endothelial NO synthase levels but also stimulates production of H4B by markedly enhancing GTPCH-1 activity via casein kinase 2-dependent phosphorylation on serine 81. These findings illustrate a new function of casein kinase 2 in the endothelium and provide insight into regulation of GTPCH-1 activity.

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