The small GTPase Cdc42 regulates actin polymerization and tension development during contractile stimulation of smooth muscle

Dale D. Tang, Susan J. Gunst

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74 Scopus citations


Contractile stimulation induces actin polymerization in smooth muscle tissues and cells, and the inhibition of actin polymerization depresses smooth muscle force development. In the present study, the role of Cdc42 in the regulation of actin polymerization and tension development in smooth muscle was evaluated. Acetylcholine stimulation of tracheal smooth muscle tissues increased the activation of Cdc42. Plasmids encoding wild type Cdc42 or a dominant negative Cdc42 mutant, Asn-17 Cdc42, were introduced into tracheal smooth muscle strips by reversible permeabilization, and tissues were incubated for 2 days to allow for protein expression. Expression of recombinant proteins was confirmed by immunoblot analysis. The expression of the dominant negative Cdc42 mutant inhibited contractile force and the increase in actin polymerization in response to acetylcholine stimulation but did not inhibit the increase in myosin light chain phosphorylation. The expression of wild type Cdc42 had no significant effect on force, actin polymerization, or myosin light chain phosphorylation. Contractile stimulation increased the association of neuronal Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome protein with Cdc42 and the Arp2/3 (actin-related protein) complex in smooth muscle tissues expressing wild type Cdc42. The agonist-induced increase in these protein interactions was inhibited in tissues expressing the inactive Cdc42 mutant. We conclude that Cdc42 activation regulates active tension development and actin polymerization during contractile stimulation. Cdc42 may regulate the activation of neuronal Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome protein and the actin related protein complex, which in turn regulate actin filament polymerization initiated by the contractile stimulation of smooth muscle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51722-51728
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number50
StatePublished - Dec 10 2004


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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