To examine the importance of myosin light chain kinase (MLCK) in the initiation of contraction in smooth muscle, we used a constitutively active form of MLCK (IMLCK) and two specific peptide inhibitors of MLCK to study the activation of skinned single smooth muscle cells. Although unregulated by Ca-calmodulin, IMLCK, in vitro, was found to have biochemical properties like those of MLCK. Upon photolysis of caged ATP, IMLCK caused Ca-free shortening of skinned cells similar in time course and extent to that induced by Ca2+. Two peptide probes, RS-20 and SM-1, patterned after the Ca-calmodulin binding site and a pseudosubstrate inhibitory site, respectively, of the native MLCK molecule, were shown to specifically inhibit MLCK in in vitro experiments. Both peptides dose dependently inhibited Ca-induced shortening of skinned single cells. These results indicate that MLCK plays an essential role in the activation process in the smooth muscle cell in that activation of this enzyme is both necessary and sufficient for the initiation of contraction.
- Copyright © 1990 the American Physiological Society