Cell Physiology

cGMP-dependent protein kinase mediates the reduction of Ca2+ by cAMP in vascular smooth muscle cells

T. M. Lincoln, T. L. Cornwell, A. E. Taylor


The major action of forskolin, the diterpine activator of adenylate cyclase, in primary (unpassaged) rat aortic smooth muscle cells is to reduce vasopressin-stimulated Ca2+ concentrations. In repetitively passaged cells, however, forskolin by itself increased Ca2+ levels by apparently stimulating Ca2+ uptake into the cell and had much smaller effects on inhibiting vasopressin-stimulated Ca2+ elevations. Both primary and passaged smooth muscle cells contained adenosine 3',5'-cyclic monophosphate (cAMP)-dependent protein kinase. Guanosine 3',5'-cyclic monophosphate (cGMP)-dependent protein kinase was greatly reduced or absent in passaged smooth muscle cells. The introduction of purified cGMP-dependent protein kinase into the cytoplasm of passaged cells prevented forskolin from elevating intracellular Ca2+ and restored the capacity of forskolin to reduce vasopressin-stimulated Ca2+ mobilization. Similar effects were observed for isoproterenol in passaged smooth muscle cells. When introduced into cells, the active catalytic subunit of the cAMP-dependent protein kinase did not lead to reductions in Ca2+ levels. These results suggest that cAMP elevations lead to profound changes in Ca2+ metabolism through activation of both cAMP- and cGMP-dependent protein kinases. Activation of cGMP-dependent protein kinase by cAMP leads to the reduction in intracellular Ca2+, whereas activation of cAMP-dependent protein kinase may only mediate the uptake of Ca2+ from extracellular sources.