Small GTPase Rho plays pivotal roles in the Ca2+ sensitization of smooth muscle. However, the GTP-bound active form of Rho failed to exert Ca2+-sensitizing effects in extensively Triton X-100-permeabilized smooth muscle preparations, due to the loss of the important diffusible cofactor (Gong, M. C., Iizuka, K., Nixon, G., Browne, J. P., Hall, A., Eccleston, J. F., Sugai, M., Kobayashi, S., Somlyo, A. V., and Somlyo, A. P. (1996) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 93, 1340-1345). Here we demonstrate the contractile effects of Rho-associated kinase (Rho-kinase), recently identified as a putative target of Rho, on the Triton X-100-permeabilized smooth muscle of rabbit portal vein. Introduction of the constitutively active form of Rho- kinase into the cytosol of Triton X-100-permeabilized smooth muscle provoked a contraction and a proportional increase in levels of monophosphorylation of myosin light chain in both the presence and the absence of cytosolic Ca2+. These effects of constitutively active Rho-kinase were wortmannin (a potent myosin light chain kinase inhibitor)-insensitive. Immunoblot analysis revealed that the amount of native Rho-kinase was markedly lower in Triton X- 100-permeabilized tissue than in intact tissue. Our results demonstrate that Rho-kinase directly modulates smooth muscle contraction through myosin light chain phosphorylation, independently of the Ca2+-calmodulin-dependent myosin light chain kinase pathway.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes