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Circ Res. 2009 Nov 6;105(10):948-55. doi: 10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.109.203620. Epub 2009 Oct 1.

Smooth muscle cell alpha2delta-1 subunits are essential for vasoregulation by CaV1.2 channels.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, TN 38163, USA.

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Voltage-dependent L-type (Ca(V)1.2) Ca(2+) channels are a heteromeric complex formed from pore-forming alpha(1) and auxiliary alpha(2)delta and beta subunits. Ca(V)1.2 channels are the principal Ca(2+) influx pathway in arterial myocytes and regulate multiple physiological functions, including contraction. The macromolecular composition of arterial myocyte Ca(V)1.2 channels remains poorly understood, with no studies having examined the molecular identity or physiological functions of alpha(2)delta subunits.


We investigated the functional significance of alpha(2)delta subunits in myocytes of resistance-size (100 to 200 mum diameter) cerebral arteries.


alpha(2)delta-1 was the only alpha(2)delta isoform expressed in cerebral artery myocytes. Pregabalin, an alpha(2)delta-1/-2 ligand, and an alpha(2)delta-1 antibody, inhibited Ca(V)1.2 currents in isolated myocytes. Acute pregabalin application reversibly dilated pressurized arteries. Using a novel application of surface biotinylation, data indicated that >95% of Ca(V)1.2 alpha(1) and alpha(2)delta-1 subunits were present in the arterial myocyte plasma membrane. Alpha(2)delta-1 knockdown using short hairpin RNA reduced plasma membrane-localized Ca(V)1.2 alpha(1) subunits, caused a corresponding elevation in cytosolic Ca(V)1.2 alpha(1) subunits, decreased intracellular Ca(2+) concentration, inhibited pressure-induced vasoconstriction ("myogenic tone"), and attenuated pregabalin-induced vasodilation. Prolonged (24-hour) pregabalin exposure did not alter total alpha(2)delta-1 or Ca(V)1.2 alpha(1) proteins but decreased plasma membrane expression of each subunit, which reduced myogenic tone.


alpha(2)delta-1 is essential for plasma membrane expression of arterial myocyte Ca(V)1.2 alpha(1) subunits. alpha(2)delta-1 targeting can block Ca(V)1.2 channels directly and inhibit surface expression of Ca(V)1.2 alpha(1) subunits, leading to vasodilation. These data identify alpha(2)delta-1 as a novel molecular target in arterial myocytes, the manipulation of which regulates contractility.

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