GSBS Dissertations and Theses

Publication Date


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Academic Program

Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology


Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology

First Thesis Advisor

Thomas Honeyman, Ph.D.

Second Thesis Advisor

Cheryl R. Scheid, Ph.D.


Receptors, Calcium-Sensing, Receptors, Muscarinic, Biological Transport, Muscle, Smooth, Cell Membrane


The thesis research was designed to study the characteristics of two important physiological processes in smooth muscle: Ca2+ transport mediated by the plasmalemmal Ca2+-ATPase and muscarinic receptor-G protein interactions. In resting smooth muscle, several Ca2+ extrusion or sequestration processes offset the passive inward leak of Ca2+. Although biochemical evidence suggests that the plasmalemmal Ca2+ pump plays a key role in this process, the precise role of this enzyme could not be proven until a reliable estimate of the inward Ca2+ leak was measured. Recent studies using dispersed smooth muscle cells from the toad stomach provided an estimate of the basal transmembrane Ca2+ flux rate; thus, we examined the transport capacity of the plasmalemmal Ca2+pump in this tissue. Gastric smooth muscle tissue was disrupted by homogenization and nitrogen cavitation. Membranes enriched 20 fold for plasma membrane markers were obtained using differential centrifugation and purification by flotation on discontinuous sucrose gradients.

The membrane vesicles exhibited an ATP-dependent 45Ca uptake that was insensitive to azide or oxalate but sensitive to stimulation by calmodulin or inhibition by orthovanadate and the calmodulin antagonists trifluoperazine (TFP) or calmidazolium (CMZ). 45Ca accumulated in the presence of ATP was rapidly released by Ca2+ ionophore but not by agents that stimulate Ca2+ release from the sarcoplasmic rettculum (caffeine, inositol trisphosphate, GTP). However, both CMZ and TFP evoked a Ca2+ release that was comparable to that observed in the presence of Ca2+ ionophore, suggesting that these compounds have profound effects on membrane Ca2+permeability.

45Ca transport exhibited a high affinity for Ca2+ (KD 0.2 μM) and a high transport capacity, producing a > 12,000-fold gradient for Ca2+and a transmembrane flux rate at least 3-fold greater than that observed in resting smooth muscle cells.

As a first step toward understanding the biochemical basis for the diversity of muscarinic cholinergic actions on smooth muscle, we examined the distribution of muscarinic receptor subtypes and coupling to guantne nucleotide-binding (G) proteins in airway and gastric smooth muscle. Receptor subtypes were classified in membranes prepared from bovine trachea and toad stomach based on the relative abilities of the selective antagonists pirenzepine (M1), AF-DX 116 (M2) and 4-DAMP (M3) to displace the binding of nonselective antagonist [3H]QNB (quinuclidinyl benzilate). Based on the binding profiles for these antagonists, it was concluded that both smooth muscle types contain a mixture of M2 and M3 subtypes. In trachea the majority of receptors (86%) were M2, whereas in stomach the majority of receptors (88%) were M3.

The displacement of [3H]QNB binding by the agonist oxotremorine indicated a mixed population of high affinity (KD = 4 nM) and low affinity (KD = 2-4 μM) binding sites. The addition of GTPγS abolished all high affinity agonist binding, suggesting that coupling of the receptors to G proteins may confer high affinity. Reaction of membranes with pertussis toxin in the presence of [32P]NAD caused the [32P]-labelling of a ~ 41 kD protein in both gastric and tracheal smooth musc1e. Pretreatment of the membranes with pertussis toxin and NAD completely abolished high affinity agonist binding in gastric smooth muscle, but produced little if any decrease in high affinity agonist binding in trachea. We conclude that, although muscarinic receptor activation leads to the elevation of intracellular Ca2+ and to contraction of both airway and gastric smooth muscle, the dissimilar distributions of receptor subtypes and distinct patterns of coupling to G proteins may indicate that each smooth muscle type uses different receptor-G protein interactions to regulate intracellular signalling pathways.


Third thesis advisor is Hiroshi Yamaguchi, Ph.D.



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