The effects of adenosine 3',5'-cyclic monophosphate (cAMP), guanosine 3',5'-cyclic monophosphate (cGMP) and phorbol 12,13 dibutyrate (PDBu) on the Ca2+ sensitivity of the contractile elements in the rat mesenteric artery were investigated, using a method of permeabilizing smooth muscle with Staphylococcal alpha-toxin. Both cAMP and cGMP relaxed the permeabilized rat mesenteric artery at the intracellular Ca2+ concentrations [( Ca2+]i) held constant with Ca2+ EGTA buffer and Ca2+ ionophore, ionomycin. In addition, forskolin and sodium nitroprusside which activate adenylate and guanylate cyclases, respectively, also induced relaxation at a fixed [Ca2+]i. In contrast PDBu which stimulates protein kinase C caused an increase in force at a constant [Ca2+]i which could be partially reversed by cAMP or cGMP. These results indicate that second messengers exert direct control over smooth muscle Ca2+ sensitivity of the contractile elements, which is of physiologic and pharmacologic importance.
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