c-Fos expression in ouabain-treated vascular smooth muscle cells from rat aorta: Evidence for an intracellular-sodium-mediated, calcium-independent mechanism

Sebastien Taurin, Nickolai O. Dulin, Dmitry Pchejetski, Ryszard Grygorczyk, Johanne Tremblay, Pavel Hamet, Sergei N. Orlov

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In this study, we examined the effect of Na(+)-K(+) pump inhibition on the expression of early response genes in vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC) as possible intermediates of the massive RNA synthesis and protection against apoptosis seen in ouabain-treated VSMC in our previous experiments. Incubation of VSMC with ouabain resulted in rapid induction of c-Fos protein expression with an approximately sixfold elevation after 2 h of incubation. c-Jun expression was increased by approximately fourfold after 12 h, whereas expression of activating transcription factor 2, cAMP/Ca(2+) response element binding protein (CREB)-1 and c-Myc was not altered. Markedly augmented c-Fos expression was also observed under Na(+)-K(+) pump inhibition in potassium-depleted medium. Na(+)-K(+) pump inhibition triggered c-Fos expression via elevation of the [Na(+)](i)/[K(+)](i) ratio. This conclusion follows from experiments showing the lack of effect of ouabain on c-Fos expression in high-potassium-low-sodium medium and from the comparison of dose responses of Na(+)-K(+) pump activity, [Na(+)](i) and [K(+)](i) content and c-Fos expression to ouabain. A fourfold increment of c-Fos mRNA was revealed 30 min following addition of ouabain to the incubation medium. At this time point, treatment with ouabain resulted in an approximately fourfold elevation of [Na(+)](i) but did not affect [K(+)](i). Augmented c-Fos expression was also observed under VSMC depolarization in high-potassium medium. Increments in both c-Fos expression and (45)Ca uptake in depolarized VSMC were abolished under inhibition of L-type Ca(2+) channels with 0.1 microM nicardipine. Ouabain did not affect the free [Ca(2+)](i) or the content of exchangeable [Ca(2+)](i). Ouabain-induced c-Fos expression was also insensitive to the presence of nicardipine and [Ca(2+)](o), as well as chelators of [Ca(2+)](o) (EGTA) and [Ca(2+)](i) (BAPTA). The effect of ouabain and serum on c-Fos expression was additive. In contrast to serum, however, ouabain failed to activate the Elk-1, serum response factor, CREB and activator protein-1 transcription factors identified within the c-Fos promoter. These results suggest that Na(+)-K(+) pump inhibition triggers c-Fos expression via [Na(+)](i)-sensitive [Ca(2+)](i)-independent transcription factor(s) distinct from factors interacting with known response elements of this gene promoter.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)835-47
Number of pages13
JournalThe Journal of Physiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sep 2002


  • Animals
  • Aorta
  • Blood Proteins
  • Calcium
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Gene Expression
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular
  • Ouabain
  • Potassium
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred BN
  • Response Elements
  • Sodium
  • Sodium-Potassium-Exchanging ATPase
  • Transcription Factors

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