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Elementary Ca2+ Signals Through Endothelial TRPV4 Channels Regulate Vascular Function

Science  04 May 2012:
Vol. 336, Issue 6081, pp. 597-601
DOI: 10.1126/science.1216283

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Abstract

Major features of the transcellular signaling mechanism responsible for endothelium-dependent regulation of vascular smooth muscle tone are unresolved. We identified local calcium (Ca2+) signals (“sparklets”) in the vascular endothelium of resistance arteries that represent Ca2+ influx through single TRPV4 cation channels. Gating of individual TRPV4 channels within a four-channel cluster was cooperative, with activation of as few as three channels per cell causing maximal dilation through activation of endothelial cell intermediate (IK)- and small (SK)-conductance, Ca2+-sensitive potassium (K+) channels. Endothelial-dependent muscarinic receptor signaling also acted largely through TRPV4 sparklet-mediated stimulation of IK and SK channels to promote vasodilation. These results support the concept that Ca2+ influx through single TRPV4 channels is leveraged by the amplifier effect of cooperative channel gating and the high Ca2+ sensitivity of IK and SK channels to cause vasodilation.

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