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19th World Congress on Heart Disease



Ashok K. Srivastava, Ph.D., CRCHUM, University of Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada


Vasoactive peptides such as angiotensin II and endothelin-1 as well as growth factors regulate vascular homeostasis through signaling pathways that are triggered in both normal and disease states. These vasoactive peptides and growth factors also increase the cellular levels of calcium which, through calcium binding effector systems initiates the downstream signaling and physiological responses in target cells. A multifunctional calcium-calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) has emerged as an important transducer of vasoactive peptide-induced responses in vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC). Endothelin-1 (ET-1), a potent vasoactive peptide with a pathogenic role in vascular diseases, has been shown to induce the activation of ERK1/2, PKB and the expression of a transcriptional regulator, the early growth response 1 (Egr-1), key mediators of hypertrophic and proliferative responses in VSMC. Here, by utilizing pharmacological inhibitors of calmodulin ( CaM) and CaMK, and by CaMKII knockdown techniques, we have investigated the contribution of CaM and CaMKII in ET-1-induced ERK1/2 and PKB signaling, Egr-1 expression and hypertrophic and proliferative responses in VSMC. W-7 and calmidazolium, antagonists of CaM, as well as KN-93, an inhibitor of CaMKII activity, attenuated ET-1-induced ERK1/2 and PKB phosphorylation. In addition, transfection of VSMC with a CaMKII inhibitory peptide suppressed ET-1-evoked ERK1/2 and PKB phosphorylation. Similarly, siRNA-mediated CaMKII silencing reduced ET-1-produced ERK1/2 and PKB phosphorylation. CaM and CaMKII blockade also significantly lowered the ET-1-induced protein and DNA synthesis as well as Egr-1 expression. These findings demonstrate that CaMKII by regulating ET-1-induced growth promoting signaling pathways and hypertrophic as well as proliferative responses plays a key role in vascular pathophysiology. (Supported by CIHR).



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