The role of protein kinase C (PKC) in regulating the contractile state of smooth muscle was investigated using the constitutively active catalytic fragment of PKC (PKM) with skinned (demembranated) chicken gizzard fibres. PKM attenuated a submaximal contraction in gizzard smooth muscle skinned fibres, but not in rabbit cardiac skinned fibres. PKM-mediated relaxation of submaximal contractions of smooth muscle was accompanied by a reduction in the rate of ATP hydrolysis in the fibre and by phosphorylation of the 20 kDa light chain of gizzard myosin at the PKC sites (serine-1, serine-2 and threonine-9). In addition, several other endogenous proteins were phosphorylated by PKM. However, the inhibitory effects on tension and ATPase are consistent with the biochemical effects of PKC-catalysed phosphorylation of Myosin, I.e. reduction of the actin-activated MgATPase activity of myosin prephosphorylated at serine-19 by myosin light chain kinase. Pretreatment of skinned fibres with PKM and ATPγS in the absence of Ca2+ had no inhibitory effect on the subsequent submaximal Ca2+-activation of force. Consistent with this observation, PKC was not able to utilize ATPγS as a substrate, confirming that the observed effects were the result of PKM-catalysed protein phosphorylation. We suggest that PKC may have two distinct effects on smooth muscle contraction: translocation of PKC to the sarcolemma on stimulation results in phosphorylation of a protein(s) other than myosin and a slow, sustained contraction; in some circumstances PKC may undergo proteolysis to PKM resulting in myosin phosphorylation at PKC-specific sites, a reduction in ATPase activity and relaxation of the muscle.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology