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EMBO J. 1993 Apr;12(4):1681-92.

Mechanical stretch rapidly activates multiple signal transduction pathways in cardiac myocytes: potential involvement of an autocrine/paracrine mechanism.

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Molecular Medicine Division, Beth Israel Hospital.


It is well known that external load plays a critical role in determining cardiac muscle mass and its phenotype, but little is known as to how mechanical load is transduced into intracellular signals regulating gene expression. To address this question we analyzed the 'mechano-transcription' coupling process using an in vitro model of load-induced cardiac hypertrophy, in which a stretch of rat cardiac myocytes, grown on a deformable substrate, causes a rapid induction of immediate-early genes followed by growth (hypertrophic) response. We report here that cell stretch rapidly activates a plethora of second messenger pathways, including tyrosine kinases, p21ras, mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinases, S6 kinases (pp90RSK), protein kinase C, phospholipase C, phospholipase D, and probably the phospholipase A2 and P450 pathways. In contrast, the cAMP pathway is not activated significantly by stretch. The signals generated by these second messengers appear to converge into activation of the p67SRF-p62TCF complex via the serum response element, causing induction of c-fos. The stretch response may involve an autocrine or paracrine mechanism, because stretch-conditioned medium, when transferred to non-stretched myocytes, mimicked the effect of stretch. These results indicate that mechanical load causes rapid activation of multiple second messenger systems, which may in turn initiate a cascade of hypertrophic response of cardiac myocytes.

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