Coupling of beta2-adrenoceptor to Gi proteins and its physiological relevance in murine cardiac myocytes.


-Transgenic mouse models have been developed to manipulate beta-adrenergic receptor (betaAR) signal transduction. Although several of these models have altered betaAR subtypes, the specific functional sequelae of betaAR stimulation in murine heart, particularly those of beta2-adrenergic receptor (beta2AR) stimulation, have not been characterized. In the present study, we investigated effects of beta2AR stimulation on contraction, [Ca2+]i transient, and L-type Ca2+ currents (ICa) in single ventricular myocytes isolated from transgenic mice overexpressing human beta2AR (TG4 mice) and wild-type (WT) littermates. Baseline contractility of TG4 heart cells was increased by 3-fold relative to WT controls as a result of the presence of spontaneous beta2AR activation. In contrast, beta2AR stimulation by zinterol or isoproterenol plus a selective beta1-adrenergic receptor (beta1AR) antagonist CGP 20712A failed to enhance the contractility in TG4 myocytes, and more surprisingly, beta2AR stimulation was also ineffective in increasing contractility in WT myocytes. Pertussis toxin (PTX) treatment fully rescued the ICa, [Ca2+]i, and contractile responses to beta2AR agonists in both WT and TG4 cells. The PTX-rescued murine cardiac beta2AR response is mediated by cAMP-dependent mechanisms, because it was totally blocked by the inhibitory cAMP analog Rp-cAMPS. These results suggest that PTX-sensitive G proteins are responsible for the unresponsiveness of mouse heart to agonist-induced beta2AR stimulation. This was further corroborated by an increased incorporation of the photoreactive GTP analog [gamma-32P]GTP azidoanilide into alpha subunits of Gi2 and Gi3 after beta2AR stimulation by zinterol or isoproterenol plus the beta1AR blocker CGP 20712A. This effect to activate Gi proteins was abolished by a selective beta2AR blocker ICI 118,551 or by PTX treatment. Thus, we conclude that (1) beta2ARs in murine cardiac myocytes couple to concurrent Gs and Gi signaling, resulting in null inotropic response, unless the Gi signaling is inhibited; (2) as a special case, the lack of cardiac contractile response to beta2AR agonists in TG4 mice is not due to a saturation of cell contractility or of the cAMP signaling cascade but rather to an activation of beta2AR-coupled Gi proteins; and (3) spontaneous beta2AR activation may differ from agonist-stimulated beta2AR signaling.







Robert J. Lefkowitz

The Chancellor's Distinguished Professor of Medicine

Dr. Lefkowitz’s memoir, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Stockholm, recounts his early career as a cardiologist and his transition to biochemistry, which led to his Nobel Prize win.

Robert J. Lefkowitz, M.D. is Chancellor’s Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Professor of Biochemistry and Chemistry at the Duke University Medical Center. He has been an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute since 1976. Dr. Lefkowitz began his research career in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s when there was not a clear consensus that specific receptors for drugs and hormones even existed. His group spent 15 difficult years developing techniques for labeling the receptors with radioactive drugs and then purifying the four different receptors that were known and thought to exist for adrenaline, so called adrenergic receptors. In 1986 Dr. Lefkowitz transformed the understanding of what had by then become known as G protein coupled receptors because of the way the receptor signal for the inside of a cell through G proteins, when he and his colleagues cloned the gene for the beta2-adrenergic receptor. They immediately recognized the similarity to a molecule called rhodopsin which is essentially a light receptor in the retina. This unexpected finding established the beta receptor and rhodopsin as the first member of a new family of proteins. Because each has a peptide structure, which weaves across the cell membrane seven times, these receptors are referred to as seven transmembrane receptors. This super family is now known to be the largest, most diverse and most therapeutically accessible of all the different kinds of cellular receptors. There are almost a thousand members of this receptor family and they regulate virtually all known physiological processes in humans. They include the receptors not only to numerous hormones and neurotransmitters but for the receptors which mediate the senses of sweet and bitter taste and smell amongst many others. Dr. Lefkowitz also discovered the mechanism by which receptor signaling is turned off, a process known as desensitization. Dr. Lefkowitz work was performed at the most fundamental and basic end of the research spectrum and has had remarkable consequences for clinical medicine. Today, more than half of all prescription drug sales are of drugs that target either directly or indirectly the receptors discovered by Dr. Lefkowitz and his trainees. These include amongst many others beta blockers, angiotensin receptor blockers or ARBs and antihistamines. Over the past decade he has discovered novel mechanisms by which the receptors function which may lead to the development of an entirely new class of drugs called “biased agonists”. Several such compounds are already in advanced stages of clinical testing. Dr. Lefkowitz has received numerous honors and awards, including the National Medal of Science, the Shaw Prize, the Albany Prize, and the 2012 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He was elected to the USA National Academy of Sciences in 1988, the Institute of Medicine in 1994, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1988.

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