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Myosin light chain (MLC) phosphorylation plays important roles in various cellular functions such as cellular morphogenesis, motility, and smooth muscle contraction. MLC phosphorylation is determined by the balance between activities of Rho-associated kinase (Rho-kinase) and myosin phosphatase. An impaired balance between Rho-kinase and myosin phosphatase activities induces the abnormal sustained phosphorylation of MLC, which contributes to the pathogenesis of certain vascular diseases, such as vasospasm and hypertension. However, the dynamic principle of the system underlying the regulation of MLC phosphorylation remains to be clarified. Here, to elucidate this dynamic principle whereby Rho-kinase regulates MLC phosphorylation, we developed a mathematical model based on the behavior of thrombin-dependent MLC phosphorylation, which is regulated by the Rho-kinase signaling network. Through analyzing our mathematical model, we predict that MLC phosphorylation and myosin phosphatase activity exhibit bistability, and that a novel signaling pathway leading to the auto-activation of myosin phosphatase is required for the regulatory system of MLC phosphorylation. In addition, on the basis of experimental data, we propose that the auto-activation pathway of myosin phosphatase occurs in vivo. These results indicate that bistability of myosin phosphatase activity is responsible for the bistability of MLC phosphorylation, and the sustained phosphorylation of MLC is attributed to this feature of bistability.

Citation

Takako Kaneko-Kawano, Fugo Takasu, Honda Naoki, Yuichi Sakumura, Shin Ishii, Takahiro Ueba, Akinori Eiyama, Aiko Okada, Yoji Kawano, Kenji Suzuki. Dynamic regulation of myosin light chain phosphorylation by Rho-kinase. PloS one. 2012;7(6):e39269

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PMID: 22723981

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