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Pharmacol Res Perspect. 2017 Oct;5(5). doi: 10.1002/prp2.343.

Inhibition of RhoA/Rho kinase pathway and smooth muscle contraction by hydrogen sulfide.

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Department of Physiology and Biophysics, VCU Program in Enteric Neuromuscular Sciences, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia.


Hydrogen sulfide (H2 S) plays an important role in smooth muscle relaxation. Here, we investigated the expression of enzymes in H2 S synthesis and the mechanism regulating colonic smooth muscle function by H2 S. Expression of cystathionine-γ-lyase (CSE), but not cystathionine-β-synthase (CBS), was identified in the colonic smooth muscle of rabbit, mouse, and human. Carbachol (CCh)-induced contraction in rabbit muscle strips and isolated muscle cells was inhibited by l-cysteine (substrate of CSE) and NaHS (an exogenous H2 S donor) in a concentration-dependent fashion. H2 S induced S-sulfhydration of RhoA that was associated with inhibition of RhoA activity. CCh-induced Rho kinase activity also was inhibited by l-cysteine and NaHS in a concentration-dependent fashion. Inhibition of CCh-induced contraction by l-cysteine was blocked by the CSE inhibitor, dl-propargylglycine (DL-PPG) in dispersed muscle cells. Inhibition of CCh-induced Rho kinase activity by l-cysteine was blocked by CSE siRNA in cultured cells and DL-PPG in dispersed muscle cells. Stimulation of Rho kinase activity and muscle contraction in response to CCh was also inhibited by l-cysteine or NaHS in colonic muscle cells from mouse and human. Collectively, our studies identified the expression of CSE in colonic smooth muscle and determined that sulfhydration of RhoA by H2 S leads to inhibition of RhoA and Rho kinase activities and muscle contraction. The mechanism identified may provide novel therapeutic approaches to mitigate gastrointestinal motility disorders.


Cystathionine-γ-lyase; MLC20 phosphorylation; RhoA activity; l-cysteine; signaling; sulfhydration

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