Vasodilator Stimulated Phosphoprotein (VASP) Regulates Actin Polymerization and Contraction in Airway Smooth Muscle by a Vinculin-dependent Mechanism [Cell Biology]

March 10th, 2015 by Wu, Y., Gunst, S. J.

Vasodilator stimulated phosphoprotein (VASP) can catalyze actin polymerization by elongating actin filaments. The elongation mechanism involves VASP oligomerization and its binding to profilin, a G-actin chaperone. Actin polymerization is required for tension generation during the contraction of airway smooth muscle (ASM); however the role of VASP in regulating actin dynamics in ASM is not known. We stimulated ASM cells and tissues with the contractile agonist acetylcholine (ACh) or the adenylyl cyclase activator, forskolin (FSK), a dilatory agent. ACh and FSK stimulated VASP Ser157 phosphorylation by different kinases. Inhibition of VASP Ser157 phosphorylation by expression of the mutant VASP S157A in ASM tissues suppressed VASP phosphorylation and membrane localization in response to ACh, and also inhibited contraction and actin polymerization. ACh but not FSK triggered the formation of VASP-VASP complexes as well as VASP-vinculin and VASP-profilin complexes at membrane sites. VASP-VASP complex formation and the interaction of VASP with vinculin and profilin were inhibited by expression of the inactive vinculin mutant, vinculin Y1065F, but VASP phosphorylation and membrane localization were unaffected. We conclude that VASP phosphorylation at Ser157 mediates its localization at the membrane, but that VASP Ser157 phosphorylation and membrane localization is not sufficient to activate its actin catalytic activity. The interaction of VASP with activated vinculin at membrane adhesion sites is a necessary prerequisite for VASP-mediated molecular processes necessary for actin polymerization. Our results show that VASP is a critical regulator of actin dynamics and tension generation during the contractile activation of ASM.
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