Phasic myometrial contractility is a key component of human parturition and the contractions are driven by reversible phosphorylation of myosin light chains catalyzed by the calcium (Ca2+)-dependent enzyme myosin light chain kinase (MYLK). Other yet unknown phosphorylation or de-phosphorylation events may contribute to myometrial contraction and relaxation. In this study we have performed a global phosphoproteomic analysis of human myometrial tissue using tandem mass tagging to detect changes in the phosphorylation status of individual myometrial proteins during spontaneous and oxytocin-driven phasic contractions. We were able to detect 22 individual phosphopeptides whose relative ratio changed (fold > 2 or < 0.5) in response to spontaneous or oxytocin-stimulated contraction. The most significant changes in phosphorylation were to MYLK on serine 1760, a site associated with reductions in calmodulin binding and subsequent kinase activity. Phosphorylated MYLK (ser1760) increased significantly during spontaneous (9.83 ± 3.27 fold, P < 0.05) and oxytocin -induced (18.56 ± 8.18 fold, P < 0.01) contractions and we were able to validate these data using immunoblotting. Pathway analysis suggested additional proteins involved in calcium signalling, cGMP-PRKG signalling, adrenergic signalling and oxytocin signalling were also phosphorylated during contractions. This study demonstrates that a global phosphoproteomic analysis of myometrial tissue is a sensitive approach to detect changes in the phosphorylation of proteins during myometrial contractions, and provides a platform for further validation of these changes and for identification of their functional significance.
Keywords: Contractility; Myometrium; Myosin light chain kinase; Parturition; Phosphoproteomics; Uterus.
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