Cardiovascular research

Principal role of adenylyl cyclase 6 in K⁺ channel regulation and vasodilator signalling in vascular smooth muscle cells.

PMID 21606183


Membrane potential is a key determinant of vascular tone and many vasodilators act through the modulation of ion channel currents [e.g. the ATP-sensitive potassium channel (K(ATP))] involved in setting the membrane potential. Adenylyl cyclase (AC) isoenzymes are potentially important intermediaries in such vasodilator signalling pathways. Vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) express multiple AC isoenzymes, but the reason for such redundancy is unknown. We investigated which of these isoenzymes are involved in vasodilator signalling and regulation of vascular ion channels important in modulating membrane potential. AC isoenzymes were selectively depleted (by >75%) by transfection of cultured VSMCs with selective short interfering RNA sequences. AC6 was the predominant isoenzyme involved in vasodilator-mediated cAMP accumulation in VSMCs, accounting for ∼60% of the total response to β-adrenoceptor (β-AR) stimulation. AC3 played a minor role in β-AR signalling, whereas AC5 made no significant contribution. AC6 was also the principal isoenzyme involved in β-AR-mediated protein kinase A (PKA) signalling (determined using the fluorescent biosensor for PKA activity, AKAR3) and the substantial β-AR/PKA-dependent enhancement of K(ATP) current. K(ATP) current was shown to play a vital role in setting the resting membrane potential and in mediating the hyperpolarization observed upon β-AR stimulation. AC6, but not the closely related AC5, plays a principal role in vasodilator signalling and regulation of the membrane potential in VSMCs. These findings identify AC6 as a vital component in the vasodilatory apparatus central to the control of blood pressure.