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Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2010 Aug;299(2):H548-56. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00527.2009. Epub 2010 Jun 11.

Na(+)-K(+)-ATPase and Ca(2+) clearance proteins in smooth muscle: a functional unit.

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Molecular and Cellular Physiology, Univ. of Cincinnati College of Medicine, 231 Albert Sabin Way, Cincinnati, OH 45267-0576, USA.


The Na(+)-K(+)-ATPase (NKA) can affect intracellular Ca(2+) concentration regulation via coupling to the Na(+)-Ca(2+) exchanger and may be important in myogenic tone. We previously reported that in mice carrying a transgene for the NKA alpha(2)-isoform in smooth muscle (alpha(2sm+)), the alpha(2)-isoform protein as well as the alpha(1)-isoform (not contained in the transgene) increased to similar degrees (2-7-fold). Aortas from alpha(2sm+) mice relaxed faster from a KCl-induced contraction, hypothesized to be related to more rapid Ca(2+) clearance. To elucidate the mechanisms underlying this faster relaxation, we therefore measured the expression and distribution of proteins involved in Ca(2+) clearance. Na(+)-Ca(2+) exchanger, sarco(endo)plasmic reticulum Ca(2+)-ATPase (SERCA), and plasma membrane Ca(2+)-ATPase (PMCA) proteins were all elevated up to approximately fivefold, whereas actin, myosin light chain, and calponin proteins were not changed in smooth muscle from alpha(2sm+) mice. Interestingly, the corresponding Ca(2+) clearance mRNA levels were unchanged. Immunocytochemical data indicate that the Ca(2+) clearance proteins are distributed similarly in wild-type and alpha(2sm+) aorta cells. In studies measuring relaxation half-times from a KCl-induced contraction in the presence of pharmacological inhibitors of SERCA and PMCA, we estimated that together these proteins were responsible for approximately 60-70% of relaxation in aorta. Moreover, the percent contribution of SERCA and PMCA to relaxation rates in alpha(2sm+) aorta was not significantly different from that in wild-type aorta. The coordinate expressions of NKA and Ca(2+) clearance proteins without change in the relative contributions of each individual protein to smooth muscle function suggest that NKA may be but one component of a larger functional Ca(2+) clearance system.

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