The Association of Cortactin with Profilin-1 Is Critical for Smooth Muscle Contraction [Cell Biology]

April 3rd, 2014 by Wang, R., Cleary, R. A., Wang, T., Li, J., Tang, D. D.

Profilin-1 (Pfn-1) is an actin-regulatory protein that has a role in modulating smooth muscle contraction. However, the mechanisms that regulate Pfn-1 in smooth muscle are not fully understood. Here, stimulation with acetylcholine (ACh) induced an increase in the association of the adapter protein cortactin with Pfn-1 in smooth muscle cells/tissues. Furthermore, disruption of the protein-protein interaction by a cell permeable peptide (CTTN-I peptide) attenuated actin polymerization and smooth muscle contraction without affecting myosin light chain phosphorylation at Ser-19. Knockdown of cortactin by lentivirus-mediated RNAi also diminished actin polymerization and smooth muscle force development. However, cortactin knockdown did not affect myosin activation. In addition, cortactin phosphorylation has been implicated in nonmuscle cell migration. In this study, ACh stimulation induced cortactin phosphorylation at Tyr-421 in smooth muscle cells. Phenylalanine substitution at this position impaired cortactin/Pfn-1 interaction in response to contractile activation. c-Abl is a tyrosine kinase that is necessary for actin dynamics and contraction in smooth muscle. Here, c-Abl silencing inhibited the agonist-induced cortactin phosphorylation, the association of cortactin with Pfn-1. Finally, treatment with CTTN-I peptide reduced airway resistance and smooth muscle hyperreactivity in a murine model of asthma. These results suggest that the interaction of cortactin with Pfn-1 plays a pivotal role in regulating actin dynamics, smooth muscle contraction, and airway hyperresponsiveness in asthma. The association of cortactin with Pfn-1 is regulated by c-Abl-mediated cortactin phosphorylation.