Smooth muscle contraction is a dynamic process driven by acto-myosin interactions that are controlled by multiple regulatory proteins. Our studies have shown that members of the AP-1 transcription factor family control discrete behaviors of smooth muscle cells (SMC) such as growth, migration and fibrosis. However, the role of AP-1 in regulation of smooth muscle contractility is incompletely understood. In this study we show that the AP-1 family member JunB regulates contractility in visceral SMC by altering actin polymerization and myosin light chain phosphorylation. JunB levels are robustly upregulated downstream of transforming growth factor beta-1 (TGFβ1), a known inducer of SMC contractility. RNAi-mediated silencing of JunB in primary human bladder SMC (pBSMC) inhibited cell contractility under both basal and TGFβ1-stimulated conditions, as determined using gel contraction and traction force microscopy assays. JunB knockdown did not alter expression of the contractile proteins α-SMA, calponin or SM22α. However, JunB silencing decreased levels of Rho kinase (ROCK) and myosin light chain (MLC20). Moreover, JunB silencing attenuated phosphorylation of the MLC20 regulatory phosphatase subunit MYPT1 and the actin severing protein cofilin. Consistent with these changes, cells in which JunB was knocked down showed a reduction in the F:G actin ratio in response to TGFβ1. Together these findings demonstrate a novel function for JunB in regulating visceral smooth muscle cell contractility through effects on both myosin and the actin cytoskeleton.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)