Circulation research

Rho kinase-induced nuclear translocation of ERK1/ERK2 in smooth muscle cell mitogenesis caused by serotonin.

PMID 15297378


There is now considerable evidence supporting a mitogenic action of serotonin (5-HT) on vascular smooth muscle cells (SMC) that might participate in pulmonary hypertension (PH). Our previous studies have demonstrated that 5-HT-induced proliferation depends on the generation of reactive oxygen species and activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) 1/ERK2. Activation of Rho kinase (ROCK) in SMC also may be important in PH. We undertook the present study to assess the role of Rho A/ROCK and its possible relation to ERK1/ERK2 in 5-HT-induced pulmonary artery SMC proliferation. We found that this stimulation of SMC proliferation requires Rho A/ROCK as inhibition with Y27632, a ROCK inhibitor, or dominant negative (DN) mutant Rho A blocks 5-HT-induced proliferation, cyclin D1 expression, phosphorylation of Elk, and the DNA binding of transcription factors, Egr-1 and GATA-4. 5-HT activated ROCK, and the activation was blocked by GR 55562 and GR127935, 5-HT 1B/1D receptor antagonists, but not by serotonin transport (SERT) inhibitors. Activation of Rho kinase by 5-HT was independent of activation of ERK1/ERK2, and 5-HT activated ERK1/ERK2 independently of ROCK. Treatment of SMC with Y27632 and expression of DNRho A in cells blocked translocation of ERK1/ERK2 to the cellular nucleus. Depolymerization of actin with cytochalasin D (CD) and latrunculin B (latB) failed to block the translocation of ERK, suggesting that the actin cytoskeleton does not participate in the translocation. The studies show for the first time to our knowledge combinational action of SERT and a 5-HT receptor in SMC growth and Rho A/ROCK participation in 5-HT receptor 1B/1D-mediated mitogenesis of vascular SMCs through an effect on cytoplasmic to nuclear translocation of ERK1/ERK2.