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G proteins regulate remodelling of blood vessels
Date:11/13/2012

messengers work by binding to receptors, which in turn, once activated, bind to what are known as G proteins. These are situated on the inside of the cell membrane and relay the signal from there into the cell interior.

"There are two different families of G proteins which play a crucial role in vascular remodelling. They are called Gq/G11 and G12/G13 after their protein components," explains Max Planck scientist Stefan Offermanns, who has been researching these proteins and their molecular signalling pathways for several years now. In the latest study on genetically modified mice, the team was able to demonstrate for the first time how, in a living animal, these two signalling pathways are regulated by messengers. "Contrary to expectations, the two G protein-mediated signalling pathways antagonistically regulate the plasticity of smooth muscle cells," says Offermanns, summarising the findings. This is surprising in that these signalling pathways act together in other contexts: stimuli that promote vessel contraction and thus increase blood pressure activate both signalling pathways in parallel.

In order to investigate the signalling pathways and their regulation, Till Althoff, who headed the study, examined mice whose genes for the various G proteins he had specifically deactivated. Thus the researcher was able to show, for example, that in a mouse suffering from atherosclerosis and missing G12/G13 in the smooth muscle cells, these cells begin to grow excessively the result was a considerably thickened vessel wall. By contrast, animals lacking a Gq/G11 protein were protected against this thickening of the cell wall.

"We see here clearly that in vascular remodelling the two signalling pathways work as antagonists," Offermanns explains. Which is only sensible, as it is the only way a system can balance cell growth and regression. In further tests, the scientists also demonstrated the steps required for the two pathways to achieve their
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Contact: Stefan Offermanns
stefan.offermanns@mpi-bn.mpg.de
49-603-270-51202
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert  

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