Mechanical forces influence the growth and metabolism of a variety of cells, including cultured neonatal rat ventricular myocytes. To determine whether mechanical activity affected the synthesis and turnover of myosin heavy chain (MHC) in these striated muscle cells, MHC fractional degradative rates were measured in spontaneously beating cells and in arrested myocytes in which contractile activity was prevented by L-channel blockade (with verapamil, nifedipine, nisoldipine, and diltiazem) or K+ depolarization. MHC degradative rates were measured as the difference between rates of MHC synthesis and accumulation and in pulse-chase biosynthetic labeling experiments. Both methods indicated that contractile arrest markedly increased MHC degradation. Contractile arrest produced by L-channel blockade accelerated MHC degradation to a greater extent than K+ depolarization. The signal transduction pathway linking contractile activity to alterations in MHC degradation did not involve protein kinase C (PKC), because MHC degradation was unaffected by activating PKC in arrested cells or inhibiting PKC in spontaneously beating cells. Chloroquine and E-64 did not suppress the accelerated MHC degradation, suggesting that the rate-limiting step in MHC turnover occurred before degradative processing by cellular proteinases. Using a computer simulation, we hypothesize that the rate-limiting step in MHC turnover preceded (or was coincident with) MHC release from thick filaments. Thus mechanical forces may influence MHC half-life by regulating the rate of myosin disassembly.
- Copyright © 1992 the American Physiological Society