Functional analysis of cGMP-dependent protein kinases I and II as mediators of NO/cGMP effects
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NO and cGMP have emerged as important signal transduction mediators of the effects of certain hormones, inter-/intracellular signals, toxins and drugs. However, a major challenge is to define relevant criteria for determining which of the many NO and/or cGMP effects are dependent on cGMP-dependent protein kinases (cGKs). Important criteria include that: (1) the cell types/tissues investigated contain at least one form of cGK which is activated by the cGMP-elevating agent in the intact cell system; (2) specific activators/inhibitors of cGKs mimic/block the effects of cGMP-elevating agents in the intact cell system; and (3) the cGMP effect is absent or blunted in cGK-deficient systems, or can be reconstituted by the introduction of active cGKs.
Previously, analysis of cGK activity in intact cells has been very difficult. However, the analysis of vasodilator-stimulated phosphoprotein (VASP) phosphorylation by polyclonal antibodies and newly developed monoclonal antibodies, each of which specifically recognize different phosphorylation sites, allows the quantitative measurement of cGK activity in intact cells. With the use of these methods, the properties of certain cGK mutants, cGK activators (cGMP, 8-Br-cGMP, 8-pCPT-cGMP) as well as various “specific cGK inhibitors” (KT 5823, Rp-8Br-PET-cGMPS, Rp-8-pCPT-cGMPS, H8 and H89) were investigated. Although these “specific cGK inhibitors” have been widely used to establish or rule out functional roles of cGKs, very few studies have actually addressed the efficiency/specificity of such compounds in intact cells. Our results demonstrate that these inhibitors are useful tools only when used in combination with other experimental approaches and biochemical evidence.
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