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J Biol Chem. 1997 Feb 21;272(8):5063-8.

Cyclic GMP causes Ca2+ desensitization in vascular smooth muscle by activating the myosin light chain phosphatase.

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Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, D. C. 20007, USA.


Using permeabilized, arterial smooth muscle strips where membrane-associated pathways remain intact but intracellular Ca2+ stores are depleted, we investigated mechanism(s) for the Ca2+ desensitization of contractile force by cGMP. The nonhydrolyzable analog 8-bromo-cGMP, when applied to these strips with submaximal Ca2+ levels clamped, dramatically and reversibly reduced the steady state levels of phosphorylation at 20-kDa myosin light chain and contractile force, with a nanomolar concentration required to obtain 50% reduction. Supramaximal concentrations of 8-bromo-cGMP (10 microM), however, did not change the steady state relationship between phosphorylation and force. When light chain phosphatase activity was blocked at pCa 6.7, 10 microM 8-bromo-cGMP did not affect the rates of rise of light chain phosphorylation and contractile force. When light chain kinase activity was blocked, 10 microM 8-bromo-cGMP significantly accelerated light chain dephosphorylation and force relaxation from the maximal contraction steady state. The light chain phosphorylation time course of a pCa 6. 0-induced contraction in the presence of 8-bromo-cGMP exhibited kinetics that are predictable from a mathematical model in which only light chain phosphatase activity is increased. The results of this study strongly suggest that cGMP indirectly activates light chain phosphatase, the first proposed mechanism for cGMP-induced Ca2+ desensitization in vasodilatation.

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