A Role for the Tyrosine Kinase Pyk2 in Depolarization-induced Contraction of Vascular Smooth Muscle [Cell Biology]

February 24th, 2015 by Mills, R. D., Mita, M., Nakagawa, J.-i., Shoji, M., Sutherland, C., Walsh, M. P.

Depolarization of the vascular smooth muscle cell membrane evokes a rapid (phasic) contractile response followed by a sustained (tonic) contraction. We showed previously that the sustained contraction involves genistein-sensitive tyrosine phosphorylation upstream of the RhoA/Rho-associated kinase (ROK) pathway leading to phosphorylation of MYPT1 (the myosin-targeting subunit of myosin light chain phosphatase (MLCP)) and myosin regulatory light chains (LC20). In this study, we addressed the hypothesis that membrane depolarization elicits activation of the Ca2+-dependent tyrosine kinase Pyk2. Pyk2 was identified as the major tyrosine-phosphorylated protein in response to membrane depolarization. The tonic phase of K+-induced contraction was inhibited by the Pyk2 inhibitor sodium salicylate, which abolished the sustained elevation of LC20 phosphorylation. Membrane depolarization induced autophosphorylation (activation) of Pyk2 with a time-course that correlated with the sustained contractile response. The Pyk2/FAK inhibitor PF-431396 inhibited both phasic and tonic components of the contractile response to K+, Pyk2 autophosphorylation and LC20 phosphorylation but had no effect on the calyculin A (MLCP inhibitor)-induced contraction. Ionomycin, in the presence of extracellular Ca2+, elicited a slow, sustained contraction and Pyk2 autophosphorylation, which were blocked by pre-treatment with PF-431396. Furthermore, the Ca2+ channel blocker nifedipine inhibited peak and sustained K+-induced force and Pyk2 autophosphorylation. Inhibition of Pyk2 abolished the K+-induced translocation of RhoA to the particulate fraction and the phosphorylation of MYPT1 at Thr697 and Thr855. We conclude that depolarization-induced entry of Ca2+ activates Pyk2 upstream of the RhoA/ROK pathway leading to MYPT1 phosphorylation and MLCP inhibition. The resulting sustained elevation of LC20 phosphorylation then accounts for the tonic contractile response to membrane depolarization.