Key points: The extent of myosin regulatory light chain phosphorylation (RLC) necessary for smooth muscle contraction depends on the respective activities of Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent myosin light chain kinase and myosin light chain phosphatase (MLCP), which contains a regulatory subunit MYPT1 bound to the phosphatase catalytic subunit and myosin. MYPT1 showed significant constitutive T696 and T853 phosphorylation, which is predicted to inhibit MLCP activity in isolated ileal smooth muscle tissues, with additional phosphorylation upon pharmacological treatment with the muscarinic agonist carbachol. Electrical field stimulation (EFS), which releases ACh from nerves, increased force and RLC phosphorylation but not MYPT1 T696 or T853 phosphorylation. The conditional knockout of MYPT1 or the knockin mutation T853A in mice had no effect on the frequency-maximal force responses to EFS in isolated ileal tissues. Physiological RLC phosphorylation and force development in ileal smooth muscle depend on myosin light chain kinase and MLCP activities without changes in constitutive MYPT1 phosphorylation. Abstract: Smooth muscle contraction initiated by myosin regulatory light chain (RLC) phosphorylation is dependent on the relative activities of Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent myosin light chain kinase (MLCK) and myosin light chain phosphatase (MLCP). We have investigated the physiological role of the MLCP regulatory subunit MYPT1 in ileal smooth muscle in adult mice with (1) smooth muscle-specific deletion of MYPT1; (2) non-phosphorylatable MYPT1 containing a T853A knockin mutation; and (3) measurements of force and protein phosphorylation responses to cholinergic neurostimulation initiated by electric field stimulation. Isolated MYPT1-deficient tissues from MYPT1SM−/− mice contracted and relaxed rapidly with moderate differences in sustained responses to KCl and carbachol treatments and washouts, respectively. Similarly, measurements of regulatory proteins responsible for RLC phosphorylation during contractions also revealed moderate changes. There were no differences in contractile or RLC phosphorylation responses to carbachol between tissues from normal mice vs. MYPT1 T853A knockin mice. Quantitatively, there was substantial MYPT1 T696 and T853 phosphorylation in wild-type tissues under resting conditions, predicting a high extent of MLCP phosphatase inhibition. Reduced PP1cδ activity in MYPT1-deficient tissues may be similar to attenuated MLCP activity in wild-type tissues resulting from constitutively phosphorylated MYPT1. Electric field stimulation increased RLC phosphorylation and force development in tissues from wild-type mice without an increase in MYPT1 phosphorylation. Thus, physiological RLC phosphorylation and force development in ileal smooth muscle appear to be dependent on MLCK and MLCP activities without changes in constitutive MYPT1 phosphorylation.
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