Vascular Biology

Sensing the stress

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Science  11 May 2018:
Vol. 360, Issue 6389, pp. 616-617
DOI: 10.1126/science.360.6389.616-e

When blood flow in arteries increases, surrounding smooth muscle relaxes to allow blood vessel dilation. Using a high-throughput screen for mechanoreceptors that are sensitive to blood flow (shear stress), Xu et al. identified a type of sensor expressed by vascular endothelial cells called G protein–coupled receptor 68 (GPR68). Its activation triggers a cell signaling pathway that increases intracellular calcium concentration, an event that is associated with vasodilation. The authors discovered that GPR68 is expressed in mammalian small-diameter blood vessels and that loss of GPR68 expression in mice disrupts the vasodilatory response to increased blood flow. Moreover, a compound that activates GPR68 activity increased vasodilation, indicating that drugs targeting this stress sensor could potentially treat cardiovascular disease.

Cell 173, 762 (2018).

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