Phophatidylinositol-3 kinase/mammalian target of rapamycin/p70S6K regulates contractile protein accumulation in airway myocyte differentiation

Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2004 Sep;31(3):266-75. doi: 10.1165/rcmb.2003-0272OC. Epub 2004 Apr 22.


Increased airway smooth muscle in airway remodeling results from myocyte proliferation and hypertrophy. Skeletal and vascular smooth muscle hypertrophy is induced by phosphatidylinositide-3 kinase (PI(3) kinase) via mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) and p70S6 kinase (p70S6K). We tested the hypothesis that this pathway regulates contractile protein accumulation in cultured canine airway myocytes acquiring an elongated contractile phenotype in serum-free culture. In vitro assays revealed a sustained activation of PI(3) kinase and p70S6K during serum deprivation up to 12 d, with concomitant accumulation of SM22 and smooth muscle myosin heavy chain (smMHC) proteins. Immunocytochemistry revealed that activation of PI3K/mTOR/p70S6K occurred almost exclusively in myocytes that acquire the contractile phenotype. Inhibition of PI(3) kinase or mTOR with LY294002 or rapamycin blocked p70S6K activation, prevented formation of large elongated contractile phenotype myocytes, and blocked accumulation of SM22 and smMHC. Inhibition of MEK had no effect. Steady-state mRNA abundance for SM22 and smMHC was unaffected by blocking p70S6K activation. These studies provide primary evidence that PI(3) kinase and mTOR activate p70S6K in airway myocytes leading to the accumulation of contractile apparatus proteins, differentiation, and growth of large, elongated contractile phenotype airway smooth muscle cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Asthma / enzymology
  • Asthma / genetics
  • Asthma / physiopathology
  • Bronchi / cytology
  • Bronchi / enzymology
  • Bronchi / growth & development
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Contractile Proteins / metabolism*
  • Dogs
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Hypertrophy / enzymology
  • Hypertrophy / genetics
  • Microfilament Proteins / metabolism
  • Muscle Contraction / drug effects
  • Muscle Contraction / genetics
  • Muscle Proteins / metabolism
  • Myocytes, Smooth Muscle / cytology
  • Myocytes, Smooth Muscle / drug effects
  • Myocytes, Smooth Muscle / enzymology*
  • Myosin Heavy Chains / metabolism
  • Phenotype
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism*
  • Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Protein Synthesis Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • RNA, Messenger / drug effects
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Ribosomal Protein S6 Kinases, 70-kDa / metabolism*
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases


  • Contractile Proteins
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Microfilament Proteins
  • Muscle Proteins
  • Protein Synthesis Inhibitors
  • RNA, Messenger
  • transgelin
  • Protein Kinases
  • Ribosomal Protein S6 Kinases, 70-kDa
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Myosin Heavy Chains