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J Clin Invest. 1996 Mar 1;97(5):1173-83.

Thrombin receptor activation elicits rapid protein tyrosine phosphorylation and stimulation of the raf-1/MAP kinase pathway preceding delayed mitogenesis in cultured rat aortic smooth muscle cells: evidence for an obligate autocrine mechanism promoting cell proliferation induced by G-protein-coupled receptor agonist.

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Department of Cardiovascular Biochemistry, Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceutical Research Institute, Princeton, New Jersey 08543, USA.


Treatment of quiescent rat aortic smooth muscle cells with either alpha-thrombin or a thrombin receptor-derived agonist peptide (SFLLRNP) resulted in pronounced increases in [3H]thymidine incorporation that were concentration dependent and reached a maximum of approximately 15-fold above serum-starved controls. However, in contrast to FBS, PDGF-BB, or basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), that initiated DNA synthesis promptly after 16-19 h, thymidine incorporation in response to thrombin was delayed by an additional 3-6 h. Delayed mitogenesis correlated with the appearance of a potent mitogenic activity in conditioned media samples obtained from thrombin-stimulated rat aortic smooth muscle cells, as assayed using Swiss 3T3 fibroblasts. This activity was not inhibited by neutralizing antibodies directed against PDGF or bFGF. Furthermore, in the Swiss 3T3 cells, simple addition of either alpha-thrombin or SFLLRNP failed to elicit a significant mitogenic response. In signal transduction studies, both thrombin and SFLLRNP treatment led to rapid tyrosine phosphorylation of proteins with apparent molecular masses of 42, 44, 75, 120, and 190 kD, respectively, as assessed by antiphosphotyrosine immunoblotting. The overall pattern of protein tyrosine phosphorylation was distinct from that observed after PDGF-BB addition. Activation of Raf-1 and the mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinases p44mapk and p42mapk was also observed. However, the time course and duration of Raf-1/MAP kinase activation after thrombin stimulation were similar to those elicited by PDGF-BB. Taken together, our results indicate that thrombin-stimulated vascular smooth muscle proliferation is delayed and requires the de novo expression of one or more autocrine mitogens. In addition, the rapid induction of discrete intracellular signaling mechanisms by thrombin, including the Raf-1/MAP kinase pathway, appears to be insufficient alone to promote vascular smooth muscle cell mitogenesis.

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