Han X, Kubota I, Feron O, Opel DJ, Arstall MA, Zhao YY, Huang P, Fishman MC, Michel T, Kelly RA. 1998. Muscarinic cholinergic regulation of cardiac myocyte ICa-L is absent in mice with targeted disruption of endothelial nitric oxide synthase. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 95(11):6510-5. Pubmed: 9600997


Cardiac myocytes have been shown to express constitutively endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) (nitric oxide synthase 3), the activation of which has been implicated in the regulation of myocyte L-type voltage-sensitive calcium channel current (ICa-L) and myocyte contractile responsiveness to parasympathetic nervous system signaling, although this implication remains controversial. Therefore, we examined the effect of the muscarinic cholinergic agonist carbachol (CCh) on ICa-L and contractile amplitude in isoproterenol (ISO)-prestimulated ventricular myocytes isolated from adult mice, designated eNOSnull mice, with targeted disruption of the eNOS gene. Although both eNOSnull and wild-type (WT) ventricular myocytes exhibited similar increases in ICa-L in response to ISO, there was no measurable suppression of ICa-L by CCh in cells from eNOSnull mice, in contrast to cells from WT mice. These results were reflected in the absence of an effect of CCh on the positive inotropic effect of ISO in eNOSnull myocytes. Also, unlike myocytes from WT animals, eNOSnull myocytes failed to exhibit an increase in cGMP content in response to CCh. Nevertheless, the pharmacologic nitric oxide donors 3-morpholino-sydnonimine and S-nitroso-acetyl-cystein increased cGMP generation and suppressed ISO-augmented ICa-L in eNOSnull cells, suggesting that the signal transduction pathway(s) downstream of eNOS remained intact. Of importance, activation of the acetylcholine-activated K+ channel by CCh was unaffected in atrial and ventricular eNOSnull myocytes. These results confirm the obligatory role of eNOS in coupling muscarinic receptor activation to cGMP-dependent control of ICa-L in cardiac myocytes.

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Photo of Mark C. Fishman

Mark C. Fishman’s group studies the heart-brain connection. They employ a range of genetic, developmental, and neurobiological tools in zebrafish to understand what the heart tells the brain, and how critical internal sensory systems adjust homeostatic and somatic behaviors, including social interactions.

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