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Protein phosphatase inhibitors, e.g. cantharidin, exert positive inotropic effects in mammalian heart preparations. Endothall, a synthetic herbicide which is chemically related to cantharidin, inhibits protein phosphatase activities in mouse liver preparations. However, the cardiac effects of endothall have hitherto not been studied. In guinea pig papillary muscles, endothall (1-100 micromol/l) failed to affect force of contraction, whereas cantharidin (1-100 micromol/l) increased force of contraction maximally to 313.4 +/- 32% of control at 10 micromol/l. In isolated guinea pig ventricular cardiomyocytes, endothall did neither change the free intracellular calcium concentration nor the amplitude of calcium current nor the phosphorylation state of regulatory phosphoproteins like phospholamban. In contrast, cantharidin (30 micromol/l) increased the free intracellular calcium concentration and the L-type calcium current to 149.6 +/- 9% and to 157.6 +/- 12% of control, respectively. Furthermore, cantharidin (1-100 micromol/l) augmented the phosphorylation of phospholamban maximally to 140.8 +/- 7% of control. Nevertheless, in guinea pig ventricular homogenates, both endothall and cantharidin inhibited phosphatase activity with EC(50) values of 1.92 and 0.32 micromol/l, respectively. Thus, in contrast to cantharidin, endothall failed to increase force of contraction, though it inhibited protein phosphatase activity. Clearly, endothall is not an appropriate tool to study the function of protein phosphatases in the mammalian heart.
Copyright 2000 S. Karger AG, Basel
The second messenger pathways linking receptor activation at the membrane to changes in the nucleus are just beginning to be unraveled in neurons. The work presented here attempts to identify in striatal neurons the pathways that mediate cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB) phosphorylation and gene expression in response to NMDA receptor activation. We investigated the phosphorylation of the transcription factor CREB, the expression of the immediate early gene c-fos, and the induction of a transfected reporter gene under the transcriptional control of CREB after stimulation of ionotropic glutamate receptors. We found that neither AMPA/kainate receptors nor NMDA receptors were able to stimulate independently a second messenger pathway that led to CREB phosphorylation or c-fos gene expression. Instead, we saw a consecutive pathway from AMPA/kainate receptors to NMDA receptors and from NMDA receptors to L-type Ca(2+) channels. AMPA/kainate receptors were involved in relieving the Mg(2+) block of NMDA receptors, and NMDA receptors triggered the opening of L-type Ca(2+) channels. The second messenger pathway that activates CREB phosphorylation and c-fos gene expression is likely activated by Ca(2+) entry through L-type Ca(2+) channels. We conclude that in primary striatal neurons glutamate-mediated signal transduction is dependent on functional L-type Ca(2+) channels.