Calcium dependence of myosin light chain phosphorylation in smooth muscle cells

D. A. Taylor, J. T. Stull

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


Smooth muscle cells grown in culture may provide a model system for studying the Ca2+ dependence of myosin light chain phosphorylation. Tracheal smooth muscle cells in culture had 60% of the myosin content of tracheal tissue. Western analysis with appropriate antibodies demonstrated one 20-kDa light chain and the presence of a 150-kDa myosin light chain kinase in both tracheal smooth muscle tissue and cells. Moreover, tracheal cells contained 74% of the myosin light chain kinase activity measured in tissue. Similar types of analyses of nonmuscle cells showed a much lower myosin and myosin light chain kinase content. Carbachol (10 μM) or ionomycin (10 μM) stimulation of fura-2-containing cells resulted in a rapid increase in cytosolic free Ca2+ concentration and in the extent of myosin light chain phosphorylation. Maximal increases in Ca2+ concentrations were greater with ionomycin than with carbachol (4400 versus 492 nM). Light chain phosphorylation increased after the Ca2+ concentration exceeded 200 nM from control values of 165 nM. Half-maximal phosphorylation (33%) occurred at 260 nM Ca2+. There was a similar relationship between free cytosolic Ca2+ concentrations and the extent of myosin light chain phosphorylation in carbachol- and ionomycin-stimulated cells. This relationship had a Hill coefficient of 2.7. These observations indicate that small changes in Ca2+ concentrations stimulate myosin light chain phosphorylation and thus presumably contraction in smooth muscle cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14456-14462
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number28
StatePublished - 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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