Contractile proteins in myocardial cells are regulated by factor(s) released by blood vessels

George McClellan, Andrea Weisberg, Norman S. Kato, Claudio Ramaciotti, Angela Sharkey, Saul Winegrad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


The importance of perfusion of the coronary vasculature in the regulation of ATPase activity of myosin in rat myocardial cells has been studied. Quantitative histochemistry was used to determine the activity of the enzyme among cells in tissues that had been either perfused through the coronary system or superfused over the surface of the tissue. Enzymatic activity was measured in cryostatic sections from three different preparations: 1) hearts frozen immediately after removal from the animal; 2) isolated hearts frozen after they had been perfused through the coronary circulation; and 3) isolated papillary muscles or trabeculae that had been superfused after dissection and then frozen. ATPase activity was measured in the isolated tissues at different times after dissection. Both calcium- and actin-activated myosin ATPase activities were uniform among cells in both the ventricles of the hearts frozen immediately after dissection and those that had been perfused through the coronary system. In the superfused tissues, although calcium-activated myosin ATPase activity was uniform, actin-activated ATPase activity was not uniform for about 90 minutes after the dissection, the period required for stabilization of the contraction. The pattern of nonuniformity was complex. In all bundles the lowest enzymatic activity was found in the most superficial cells. In very thin bundles, the cells in the center had the highest activity. In the medium and thicker bundles, there were three concentric zones of actin-activated ATPase activity, the superficial zone with the lowest activity, an intermediate zone with high activity, and a central zone with lower activity. Within each zone, the activity was often greatest in myocardial cells immediately next to blood vessels even though the blood vessels had not been perfused. The transverse distribution of ATPase activity of myosin could be explained by a mechanism in which cells in blood vessels (presumably endothelium) release a substance that upregulates myosin ATPase activity, with the rate of release being related to the local oxygen tension. A downregulating substance may also be produced. The period of stabilization of the contraction coincides with the time during which the pattern of actomyosin ATPase activity is nonuniform. These data suggest that the contractile proteins are regulated by a substance produced by blood vessels in proportion to the local Po2, and possibly in relation to shear force on the vascular endothelium.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)787-803
Number of pages17
JournalCirculation research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1992


  • ATPase
  • Contractile proteins
  • Coronary circulation
  • Endothelin
  • Endothelium
  • Myosin
  • Regulation of contractile proteins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology


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