Respiratory research 2018 01 0519(1) 4 doi 10.1186/s12931-017-0709-4
Airway smooth muscle contraction is critical for maintenance of appropriate airway tone, and has been implicated in asthma pathogenesis. Smooth muscle contraction requires an "engine" (myosin activation) and a "transmission system" (actin cytoskeletal remodeling). However, the mechanisms that control actin remodeling in smooth muscle are not fully elucidated. The adapter protein Crk-associated substrate (CAS) regulates actin dynamics and the contraction in smooth muscle. In addition, profilin-1 (Pfn-1) and Abelson tyrosine kinase (c-Abl) are also involved in smooth muscle contraction. The interplays among CAS, Pfn-1 and c-Abl in smooth muscle have not been previously investigated.
The association of CAS with Pfn-1 in mouse tracheal rings was evaluated by co-immunoprecipitation. Tracheal rings from c-Abl conditional knockout mice were used to assess the roles of c-Abl in the protein-protein interaction and smooth muscle contraction. Decoy peptides were utilized to evaluate the importance of CAS/Pfn-1 coupling in smooth muscle contraction.
Stimulation with acetylcholine (ACh) increased the interaction of CAS with Pfn-1 in smooth muscle, which was regulated by CAS tyrosine phosphorylation and c-Abl. The CAS/Pfn-1 coupling was also modified by the phosphorylation of cortactin (a protein implicated in Pfn-1 activation). In addition, ACh activation promoted the spatial redistribution of CAS and Pfn-1 in smooth muscle cells, which was reduced by c-Abl knockdown. Inhibition of CAS/Pfn-1 interaction by a decoy peptide attenuated the ACh-induced actin polymerization and contraction without affecting myosin light chain phosphorylation. Furthermore, treatment with the Src inhibitor PP2 and the actin polymerization inhibitor latrunculin A attenuated the ACh-induced c-Abl tyrosine phosphorylation (an indication of c-Abl activation).
Our results suggest a novel activation loop in airway smooth muscle: c-Abl promotes the CAS/Pfn-1 coupling and actin polymerization, which conversely facilitates c-Abl activation. The positive feedback may render c-Abl in active state after contractile stimulation.