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Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2011 Sep;301(3):H672-82. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00198.2011. Epub 2011 Jun 10.

IRAG and novel PKG targeting in the cardiovascular system.

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Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Institute of Pharmacy, University of Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany.


Signaling by nitric oxide (NO) determines several cardiovascular functions including blood pressure regulation, cardiac and smooth muscle hypertrophy, and platelet function. NO stimulates the synthesis of cGMP by soluble guanylyl cyclases and thereby activates cGMP-dependent protein kinases (PKGs), mediating most of the cGMP functions. Hence, an elucidation of the PKG signaling cascade is essential for the understanding of the (patho)physiological aspects of NO. Several PKG signaling pathways were identified, meanwhile regulating the intracellular calcium concentration, mediating calcium desensitization or cytoskeletal rearrangement. During the last decade it emerged that the inositol trisphosphate receptor-associated cGMP-kinase substrate (IRAG), an endoplasmic reticulum-anchored 125-kDa membrane protein, is a main signal transducer of PKG activity in the cardiovascular system. IRAG interacts specifically in a trimeric complex with the PKG1β isoform and the inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptor I and, upon phosphorylation, reduces the intracellular calcium release from the intracellular stores. IRAG motifs for phosphorylation and for targeting to PKG1β and 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptor I were identified by several approaches. The (patho)physiological functions for the regulation of smooth muscle contractility and the inhibition of platelet activation were perceived. In this review, the IRAG recognition, targeting, and function are summarized compared with PKG and several PKG substrates in the cardiovascular system.

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