Abnormal contraction of vascular smooth muscle contributes to a variety of diseases such as hypertension and vasospasm in coronary and cerebral arteries. An increment in a cytoplasmic Ca2+ concentration is the key event in smooth muscle contraction. However, smooth muscle contraction is modified upon the stimulation by agonists as well as in some pathophysiological situations in Ca(2+)-independent mechanism. The molecular mechanism underlying this modulation was not elucidated. Recent studies have shown the important role of small GTPase Rho and its effector, Rho-associated kinase (Rho-kinase)/ROK/ROCK in Ca(2+)-independent regulation of smooth muscle contraction. The Rho/Rho-kinase pathway modulates the phosphorylation level of myosin light chain (MLC) of myosin II, mainly through the inhibition of myosin phosphatase, and contributes to the agonist-induced Ca(2+)-sensitization in smooth muscle contraction. The Rho/Rho-kinase pathway is involved in the pathogenesis of hypertension, vasospasm and arteriosclerosis, and is a potent target of new therapies for these diseases.
|Number of pages
|Nagoya journal of medical science
|Published - 05-2002
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