The activation of G protein-coupled estrogen receptor induces relaxation via cAMP as well as potentiates contraction via EGFR transactivation in porcine coronary arteries.
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Estrogen exerts protective effects against cardiovascular diseases in premenopausal women, but is associated with an increased risk of both coronary heart disease and stroke in older postmenopausal women. Studies have shown that activation of the G-protein-coupled estrogen receptor 1 (GPER) can cause either relaxation or contraction of arteries. It is highly likely that these dual actions of GPER may contribute to the seemingly paradoxical effects of estrogen in regulating coronary artery function. The objective of this study was to test the hypothesis that activation of GPER enhances agonist-stimulated porcine coronary artery contraction via epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) transactivation and its downstream extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERK1/2) pathway. Isometric tension studies and western blot were performed to determine the effect of GPER activation on coronary artery contraction. Our findings demonstrated that G-1 caused concentration-dependent relaxation of ET-1-induced contraction, while pretreatment of arterial rings with G-1 significantly enhanced ET-1-induced contraction. GPER antagonist, G-36, significantly inhibited both the G-1-induced relaxation effect and G-1-enhanced ET-1 contraction. Gallein, a G inhibitor, significantly increased G-1-induced relaxation, yet inhibited G-1-enhanced ET-1-mediated contraction. Similarly, inhibition of EGFR with AG1478 or inhibition of Src with phosphatase 2 further increased G-1-induced relaxation responses in coronary arteries, but decreased G-1-enhanced ET-1-induced contraction. Western blot experiments in porcine coronary artery smooth muscle cells (PCASMC) showed that G-1 increased tyrosine phosphorylation of EGFR, which was inhibited by AG-1478. Furthermore, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays showed that the level of heparin-binding EGF (HB-EGF) released by ET-1 treatment increased two-fold; whereas pre-incubation with G-1 further increased ET-1-induced HB-EGF release to four-fold over control conditions. Lastly, the role of ERK1/2 was determined by applying the MEK inhibitor, PD98059, in isometric tension studies and detecting phospho-ERK1/2 in immunoblotting. PD98059 potentiated G-1-induced relaxation response, but blocked G-1-enhanced ET-1-induced contraction. By western blot, G-1 treatment decreased phospho-ERK1/2, however, in the presence of the adenylyl cyclase inhibitor, SQ22536, G-1 significantly increased ERK1/2 phosphorylation in PCASMC. These data demonstrate that activation of GPER induces relaxation via cAMP as well as contraction via a mechanism involving transactivation of EGFR and the phosphorylation of ERK1/2 in porcine coronary arteries.