Rationale: The coordination of vascular smooth muscle cell constriction plays an important role in vascular function, such as regulation of blood pressure; however, the mechanism responsible for vascular smooth muscle cell communication is not clear in the resistance vasculature. Pannexins (Panx) are purine-releasing channels permeable to the vasoconstrictor ATP and thus may play a role in the coordination of vascular smooth muscle cell constriction. Objective: We investigated the role of pannexins in phenylephrine- and KCl-mediated constriction of resistance arteries. Methods and Results: Western blot, immunohistochemistry, and immunogold labeling coupled to scanning and transmission electron microscopy revealed the presence of Panx1 but not Panx2 or Panx3 in thoracodorsal resistance arteries. Functionally, the contractile response of pressurized thoracodorsal resistance arteries to phenylephrine was decreased significantly by multiple Panx inhibitors (mefloquine, probenecid, and Panx1), ectonucleotidase (apyrase), and purinergic receptor inhibitors (suramin and reactive blue-2). Electroporation of thoracodorsal resistance arteries with either Panx1-green fluorescent protein or Panx1 small interfering RNA showed enhanced and decreased constriction, respectively, in response to phenylephrine. Lastly, the Panx inhibitors did not alter constriction in response to KCl. This result is consistent with coimmunoprecipitation experiments from thoracodorsal resistance arteries, which suggested an association between Panx1 and α1D-adrenergic receptor. Conclusions: Our data demonstrate for the first time a key role for Panx1 in resistance arteries by contributing to the coordination of vascular smooth muscle cell constriction and possibly to the regulation of blood pressure.
- adrenergic receptor
- smooth muscle cells