Our objectives were to 1) determine how growth state and cell density affect the expression of the smooth muscle (SM) and nonmuscle (NM) isoforms of the 20-kDa myosin regulatory light chains (MLC20) in cultured rat aortic smooth muscle cells (SMC) and 2) to determine whether angiotensin II stimulates differential phosphorylation of SM and NM MLC20 isoforms in an effort to assess whether the SM and NM isoforms may subserve different cellular functions. The results demonstrated that changes in the SM MLC20 isoform content were inversely correlated with cell growth but independent of cell density. MLC20 phosphorylation levels were 20.8 +/- 2.9 and 19.4 +/- 3.7% for SM and NM isoforms, respectively, in unstimulated, substrate-attached SMC. Angiotensin II transiently elevated phosphorylation levels of both the SM and NM MLC20 isoforms to 60-70%. No differences in either the magnitude or the kinetics of phosphorylation were observed for the SM vs. NM isoforms. Forskolin, 3-isobutyl-1-methylxanthine, or isoproterenol treatment led to parallel dephosphorylation of the SM- and NM-specific isoforms followed by depolymerization of stress fibers and cell arborization. The studies provide evidence that growth arrest of cultured SMC enhances expression of cell-specific/-selective proteins characteristic of differentiated SM. However, there was no evidence for differential phosphorylation changes of SM and NM MLC20 isoforms in response to activating or relaxing agents as expected if these isoforms subserve different cellular functions.
- Copyright © 1993 the American Physiological Society