Nonmuscle myosin, force maintenance, and the tonic contractile phenotype in smooth muscle

Albert Y. Rhee, Ozgur Ogut, Frank V. Brozovich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Recent studies have demonstrated that nonmuscle (NM) myosin II forms filaments and can generate and maintain force in smooth muscle tissue [Lofgren et al. (2003) J Gen Physiol 121:301-310; Morano et al. (2000) Nat Cell Biol 2:371-375]. To further investigate the mechanical contribution of NM myosin to force maintenance during smooth muscle contraction, we utilized a selective inhibitor of the NM myosin ATPase, blebbistatin [Straight et al. (2003) Science 299:1743-1747]. Force and myosin light chain (MLC20) phosphorylation were measured during KCl stimulation of small strips of intact mouse bladder and aorta at 22°C. The bladder strips contracted with a typical phasic force response, characterized by a large, rapid, transient increase in force followed by a decline to a lower, steady-state level. The addition of blebbistatin did not alter the peak force, but decreased force maintenance. KCl depolarization of aortic strips resulted in a tonic contraction; force increased to a sustained steady state. Similar to the bladder tissue, blebbistatin substantially decreased the steady-state force in the aorta. Blebbistatin did not influence the MLC20 phosphorylation transient in either tissue type. Additionally, blebbistatin did not change the maximum shortening velocity (V max) during KCl depolarization of the aorta. Our results also suggest that NMIIA and NMIIB isoforms are differentially expressed. The expression of NMIIA is more prominent in the bladder, while NMIIB expression is predominant in the aorta. These results suggest that NM myosin contributes to the mechanism of force maintenance in smooth muscle, and could suggest that the expression of NMIIB is a factor for determining the tonic contractile phenotype.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)766-774
Number of pages9
JournalPflugers Archiv European Journal of Physiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 2006


  • Blebbistatin
  • Latch
  • MLC phosphorylation
  • Myosin
  • Shortening velocity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Physiology (medical)


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