First characterized in neuronal tissues, the multifunctional Calcium/Calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) is a key signaling component in several mammalian biological systems. Its unique capacity to integrate various Ca2+ signals into different specific outcomes is a precious asset to excitable and non-excitable cells. Numerous studies have reported roles and mechanisms involving CaMKII in brain and heart tissues. However, corresponding functions in vascular cell types (endothelium and vascular smooth muscle cells) remained largely unexplored until recently. Investigation of the intracellular Ca2+ dynamics, their impact on vascular cell function, the regulatory processes involved and more recently the spatially restricted oscillatory Ca2+ signals and microdomains triggered significant interest towards proteins like CaMKII. Heteromultimerization of CaMKII isoforms (four isoforms and several splice variants) expands this kinase's peculiar capacity to decipher Ca2+ signals and initiate specific signaling processes, and thus controlling cellular functions. The physiological functions that rely on CaMKII are unsurprisingly diverse, ranging from regulating contractile state and cellular proliferation to Ca2+ homeostasis and cellular permeability. This review will focus on emerging evidence of CaMKII as an essential component of the vascular system, with a focus on the kinase isoform/splice variants and cellular system studied.
- Calcium signaling
- Vascular Smooth muscle
- Copyright © 2016, American Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology