Endothelial cell dysfunction, characterized by a diminished response to endothelial cell-dependent vasodilators, is a hallmark of hypertension. TRPV4 channels play a major role in endothelial-dependent vasodilation, a function mediated by local Ca(2+) influx through clusters of functionally coupled TRPV4 channels rather than by a global increase in endothelial cell Ca(2+). We showed that stimulation of muscarinic acetylcholine receptors on endothelial cells of mouse arteries exclusively activated TRPV4 channels that were localized at myoendothelial projections (MEPs), specialized regions of endothelial cells that contact smooth muscle cells. Muscarinic receptor-mediated activation of TRPV4 depended on protein kinase C (PKC) and the PKC-anchoring protein AKAP150, which was concentrated at MEPs. Cooperative opening of clustered TRPV4 channels specifically amplified Ca(2+) influx at MEPs. Cooperativity of TRPV4 channels at non-MEP sites was much lower, and cooperativity at MEPs was greatly reduced by chelation of intracellular Ca(2+) or AKAP150 knockout, suggesting that Ca(2+) entering through adjacent channels underlies the AKAP150-dependent potentiation of TRPV4 activity. In a mouse model of angiotensin II-induced hypertension, MEP localization of AKAP150 was disrupted, muscarinic receptor stimulation did not activate TRPV4 channels, cooperativity among TRPV4 channels at MEPs was weaker, and vasodilation in response to muscarinic receptor stimulation was reduced. Thus, endothelial-dependent dilation of resistance arteries is enabled by MEP-localized AKAP150, which ensures the proximity of PKC to TRPV4 channels and the coupled channel gating necessary for efficient communication from endothelial to smooth muscle cells in arteries. Disruption of this molecular assembly may contribute to altered blood flow in hypertension.
Copyright © 2014, American Association for the Advancement of Science.