Nitric oxide (NO) from endothelium is a major mediator of vasodilatation through cGMP/PKG signals that lead to a decrease in Ca(2+) concentration. In addition, NO-mediated signals trigger an increase in myosin light chain phosphatase (MLCP) activity. To evaluate the mechanism of NO-induced relaxation through MLCP deinhibition, we compared time-dependent changes in Ca(2+), myosin light chain (MLC) phosphorylation and contraction to changes in phosphorylation levels of CPI-17 at Thr38, RhoA at Ser188, and MYPT1 at Ser695, Thr696 and Thr853 in response to sodium nitroprusside (SNP)-induced relaxation in denuded rabbit femoral artery. During phenylephrine (PE)-induced contraction, SNP reduced CPI-17 phosphorylation to a minimal value within 15 s, in parallel with decreases in Ca(2+) and MLC phosphorylation, followed by a reduction of contractile force having a latency period of about 15 s. MYPT1 phosphorylation at Ser695, the PKG-target site, increased concurrently with relaxation. Phosphorylation of RhoA, MYPT1 Thr696 and Thr853 differed significantly at 5 min but not within 1 min of SNP exposure. Inhibition of Ca(2+) release delayed SNP-induced relaxation while inhibition of Ca(2+) channel, BK(Ca) channel or phosphodiesterase-5 did not. Pretreatment of resting artery with SNP suppressed an increase in Ca(2+), contractile force and phosphorylation of MLC, CPI-17, MYPT1 Thr696 and Thr853 at 10 s after PE stimulation, but had no effect on phorbol ester-induced CPI-17 phosphorylation. Together, these results suggest that NO production suppresses Ca(2+) release, which causes an inactivation of PKC and rapid CPI-17 dephosphorylation as well as MLCK inactivation, resulting in rapid MLC dephosphorylation and relaxation.
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