Calcineurin inhibitors (CNI) are powerful immunomodulatory agents that produce marked renal dysfunction due in part to endothelin-1-mediated reductions in renal blood flow. Ligand-stimulated Gq protein signaling promotes the contraction of smooth muscle cells via phospholipase Cβ-mediated stimulation of cytosolic calcium release. RGS4 is a GTPase activating protein that promotes the deactivation of Gq and Gi family members. To investigate the role of G protein-mediated signaling in the pathogenesis of CNI-mediated renal injury, we used mice deficient for RGS4 (rgs4-/-). Compared to congenic wild type control animals, rgs4-/- mice were intolerant of the CNI, cyclosporine (CyA), rapidly developing fatal renal failure. Rgs4 -/- mice exhibited markedly reduced renal blood flow after CyA treatment when compared to congenic wild type control mice as measured by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Hypoperfusion was reversed by coadministration of CyA with the endothelin antagonist, bosentan. The MAPK/ERK pathway was activated by cyclosporine administration and was inhibited by cotreatment with bosentan. These results show that endothelin-1-mediated Gq protein signaling plays a key role in the pathogenesis of vasoconstrictive renal injury and that RGS4 antagonizes the deleterious effects of excess endothelin receptor activation in the kidney.
- G protein