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J. Pharmacol. Exp. Ther. 324 (1): 34-42

Copyright © 2008 by the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.


Angiotensin II Activates Extracellular Signal-Regulated Kinase Independently of Receptor Tyrosine Kinases in Renal Smooth Muscle Cells: Implications for Blood Pressure Regulation

Crisanto S. Escano, Jr., Lindsay B. Keever, Alexander A. Gutweiler, and Bradley T. Andresen

Department of Pediatrics, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, DC (C.S.E., L.B.K.); and Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, University of Missouri-Columbia School of Medicine, Columbia, Missouri (A.A.G., B.T.A.)

Abstract: Angiotensin II can cause hypertension through enhanced vasoconstriction of renal vasculature. One proposed mechanism for reduction of angiotensin II-induced hypertension is through inhibition of the mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MEK)/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) mitogen-activated protein kinase cascade. MEK/ERK has been shown to phosphorylate the regulatory subunit of myosin light chain at identical positions as myosin light chain kinase. There are multiple mechanisms proposed regarding angiotensin II-mediated ERK activation. We hypothesized that renal microvascular smooth muscle cells (RµVSMCs) signal through a unique pathway compared with thoracic aorta smooth muscle cells (TASMCs), which is involved in blood pressure regulation. Use of epidermal growth factor (EGF) and platelet derived growth factor (PDGF) receptor-specific inhibitors 4-(3-chloroanilino)-6,7-dimethoxyquinazoline (AG1478) and 6,7-dimethoxy-3-phenylquinoxaline (AG1296), respectively, demonstrates that angiotensin II activates ERK in TASMCs, but not RµVSMCs, through transactivation of EGF and PDGF receptors. In addition, inhibition of Src with its specific inhibitor 4-amino-5-(4-chlorophenyl)-7-(t-butyl) pyrazolo[3,4-d]pyrimidine (PP2) abolishes angiotensin II-, but not EGF-or PDGF-, mediated phosphorylation of ERK in RµVSMCs, yet it has no effect in TASMCs. The physiological significance of transactivation was examined in vivo using anesthetized Wistar-Kyoto rats with 15 mg/kg 2'-amino-3'-methoxyflavone (PD98059), an MEK inhibitor, as well as 20 mg/kg AG1478 and 1.5 mg/kg AG1296 in an acute model of angiotensin II-mediated increase in blood pressure. None of the inhibitors had an effect on basal blood pressure, and only PD98059 reduced angiotensin II-mediated increase in blood pressure. Moreover, in RµVSMCs, but not TASMCs, angiotensin II localizes phosphorylated ERK to actin filaments. In conclusion, angiotensin II signals through a unique mechanism in the renal vascular bed that may contribute to hypertension.

Received for publication May 25, 2007. Accepted for publication October 1, 2007.

Address correspondence to: Dr. Bradley T. Andresen, Internal Medicine/Endocrinology, D109 HSC Diabetes Center, One Hospital Dr., Columbia, MO 65212. E-mail: andresenb{at}

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