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      RhoA/Rho-kinase suppresses endothelial nitric oxide synthase in the penis: A mechanism for diabetes-associated erectile dysfunction

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          Abstract

          Significant impairment in endothelial-derived nitric oxide is present in the diabetic corpus cavernosum. RhoA/Rho-kinase may suppress endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS). Here, we tested the hypothesis that RhoA/Rho-kinase contributes to diabetes-related erectile dysfunction and down-regulation of eNOS in the streptozotocin (STZ)-diabetic rat penis. Colocalization of Rho-kinase and eNOS protein was present in the endothelium of the corpus cavernosum. RhoA/Rho-kinase protein abundance and MYPT-1 phosphorylation at Thr-696 were elevated in the STZ-diabetic rat penis. In addition, eNOS protein expression, cavernosal constitutive NOS activity, and cGMP levels were reduced in the STZ-diabetic penis. To assess the functional role of RhoA/Rho-kinase in the penis, we evaluated the effects of an adeno-associated virus encoding the dominant-negative RhoA mutant (AAVTCMV19NRhoA) on RhoA/Rho-kinase and eNOS and erectile function in vivo in the STZ-diabetic rat. STZ-diabetic rats transfected with AAVCMVT19NRhoA had a reduction in RhoA/Rho-kinase and MYPT-1 phosphorylation at a time when cavernosal eNOS protein, constitutive NOS activity, and cGMP levels were restored to levels found in the control rats. There was a significant decrease in erectile response to cavernosal nerve stimulation in the STZ-diabetic rat. AAVT19NRhoA gene transfer improved erectile responses in the STZ-diabetic rat to values similar to control. These data demonstrate a previously undescribed mechanism for the down-regulation of penile eNOS in diabetes mediated by activation of the RhoA/Rho-kinase pathway. Importantly, these data imply that inhibition of RhoA/Rho-kinase improves eNOS protein content and activity thus restoring erectile function in diabetes.

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          Most cited references 31

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          Ca2+ sensitivity of smooth muscle and nonmuscle myosin II: modulated by G proteins, kinases, and myosin phosphatase.

          Ca2+ sensitivity of smooth muscle and nonmuscle myosin II reflects the ratio of activities of myosin light-chain kinase (MLCK) to myosin light-chain phosphatase (MLCP) and is a major, regulated determinant of numerous cellular processes. We conclude that the majority of phenotypes attributed to the monomeric G protein RhoA and mediated by its effector, Rho-kinase (ROK), reflect Ca2+ sensitization: inhibition of myosin II dephosphorylation in the presence of basal (Ca2+ dependent or independent) or increased MLCK activity. We outline the pathway from receptors through trimeric G proteins (Galphaq, Galpha12, Galpha13) to activation, by guanine nucleotide exchange factors (GEFs), from GDP. RhoA. GDI to GTP. RhoA and hence to ROK through a mechanism involving association of GEF, RhoA, and ROK in multimolecular complexes at the lipid cell membrane. Specific domains of GEFs interact with trimeric G proteins, and some GEFs are activated by Tyr kinases whose inhibition can inhibit Rho signaling. Inhibition of MLCP, directly by ROK or by phosphorylation of the phosphatase inhibitor CPI-17, increases phosphorylation of the myosin II regulatory light chain and thus the activity of smooth muscle and nonmuscle actomyosin ATPase and motility. We summarize relevant effects of p21-activated kinase, LIM-kinase, and focal adhesion kinase. Mechanisms of Ca2+ desensitization are outlined with emphasis on the antagonism between cGMP-activated kinase and the RhoA/ROK pathway. We suggest that the RhoA/ROK pathway is constitutively active in a number of organs under physiological conditions; its aberrations play major roles in several disease states, particularly impacting on Ca2+ sensitization of smooth muscle in hypertension and possibly asthma and on cancer neoangiogenesis and cancer progression. It is a potentially important therapeutic target and a subject for translational research.
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            Nitric oxide: a physiologic mediator of penile erection.

            Nitric oxide (NO) is a cytotoxic agent of macrophages, a messenger molecule of neurons, and a vasodilator produced by endothelial cells. NO synthase, the synthetic enzyme for NO, was localized to rat penile neurons innervating the corpora cavernosa and to neuronal plexuses in the adventitial layer of penile arteries. Small doses of NO synthase inhibitors abolished electrophysiologically induced penile erections. These results establish NO as a physiologic mediator of erectile function.
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              Nitric oxide as a mediator of relaxation of the corpus cavernosum in response to nonadrenergic, noncholinergic neurotransmission.

              Nitric oxide has been identified as an endothelium-derived relaxing factor in blood vessels. We tried to determine whether it is involved in the relaxation of the corpus cavernosum that allows penile erection. The relaxation of this smooth muscle is known to occur in response to stimulation by nonadrenergic, noncholinergic neurons. We studied strips of corpus cavernosum tissue obtained from 21 men in whom penile prostheses were inserted because of impotence. The mounted smooth-muscle specimens were pretreated with guanethidine and atropine and submaximally contracted with phenylephrine. We then studied the smooth-muscle relaxant responses to stimulation by an electrical field and to nitric oxide. Electrical-field stimulation caused a marked, transient, frequency-dependent relaxation of the corpus cavernosum that was inhibited in the presence of N-nitro-L-arginine and N-amino-L-arginine, which selectively inhibit the biosynthesis of nitric oxide from L-arginine. The addition of excess L-arginine, but not D-arginine, largely reversed these inhibitory effects. The specific liberation of nitric oxide (by S-nitroso-N-acetylpenicillamine) caused rapid, complete, and concentration-dependent relaxation of the corpus cavernosum. The relaxation caused by either electrical stimulation or nitric oxide was enhanced by a selective inhibitor of cyclic guanosine monophosphate (GMP) phosphodiesterase (M&B 22,948). Relaxation was inhibited by methylene blue, which inhibits cyclic GMP synthesis. Our findings support the hypothesis that nitric oxide is involved in the nonadrenergic, noncholinergic neurotransmission that leads to the smooth-muscle relaxation in the corpus cavernosum that permits penile erection. Defects in this pathway may cause some forms of impotence.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                PNAS
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                0027-8424
                1091-6490
                June 15 2004
                June 15 2004
                June 15 2004
                June 07 2004
                : 101
                : 24
                : 9121-9126
                Article
                10.1073/pnas.0400520101
                428483
                15184671
                © 2004

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