The Journal of Membrane Biology

, Volume 252, Issue 4–5, pp 307–315 | Cite as

Mechanical Stretch Redefines Membrane Gαq–Calcium Signaling Complexes

  • Androniqi Qifti
  • Osama Garwain
  • Suzanne ScarlataEmail author
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Membrane and Receptor Dynamics


Muscle cells are routinely subjected to mechanical stretch but the impact of stretch on the organization of membrane domains is unknown. In this study, we characterize the effect of stretch on GPCR–Gαq protein signaling. Activation of this pathway leads to an increase in intracellular calcium. In muscle cells, GPCR–Gαq signals are enhanced when these proteins are localized in caveolae membrane domains whose curved structure can flatten with stretch. When we statically stretch rat aortic smooth muscle A10 cells by 1–5%, cellular calcium appears unperturbed as indicated by a calcium indicator. However, when we activate the bradykinin type 2 receptor (B2R)/Gαq pathway, we observe a loss in calcium that appears to be mediated through perturbations in calcium-activated stretch receptors. In contrast, if we apply oscillating stretch, calcium levels are enhanced. We tested whether the observed changes in B2R–Gαq calcium signals were caused by stretch-induced disruption of caveolae using a combination of silencing RNA technology and growth conditions. We find that stretch changes the ability of monoclonal caveolin antibodies to bind caveolae indicating a change in configuration of the domains. This change is seen by the inability of cells to survive stretch cycles when the level of caveolae is significantly reduced. Our studies show that the effect of calcium signals by mechanical stretch is mediated by the type of stretch and the amount of caveolae.


Calcium signaling G proteins Mechanical stretch Caveolae 



The authors would like to thank Dr. Kristin Billiar (Dept. of Biomedical Engineering, Worcester Polytechnic Institute) for use of his stretch apparatus as well as Zachary Goldblatt for his assistance with the device.


The authors are grateful for funding from NIH-GM116187 and support from the Richard T. Whitcomb funds.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dept. of Chemistry and BiochemistryWorcester Polytechnic InstituteWorcesterUSA

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