eNOS activation mediated by AMPK after stimulation of endothelial cells with histamine or thrombin is dependent on LKB1

Brynhildur Thors, Haraldur Halldórsson, Gudmundur Thorgeirsson
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta 2011, 1813 (2): 322-31
Reports on the role of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) in thrombin-mediated activation of endothelial nitric-oxide synthase (eNOS) in endothelial cells have been conflicting. Previously, we have shown that under culture conditions that allow reduction of ATP-levels after stimulation, activation of AMPK contributes to eNOS phosphorylation and activation in endothelial cells after treatment with thrombin. In this paper we examined the signaling pathways mediating phosphorylation and activation of eNOS after stimulation of cultured human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) with histamine and the role of LKB1-AMPK in the signaling. In Morgan's medium 199 intracellular ATP was lowered by treatment with histamine or the ionophore A23187 while in medium RMPI 1640 ATP was unchanged after identical treatment. In medium 199 inhibition of Ca(+2)/CaM kinase kinase (CaMKK) by STO-609 only partially inhibited AMPK phosphorylation but after gene silencing of LKB1 with siRNA there was a total inhibition of AMPK phosphorylation by STO-609 after treatment with either histamine or thrombin, demonstrating phosphorylation of AMPK by both upstream kinases, LKB1 and CaMKK. Downregulation of AMPK with siRNA partially inhibited eNOS phosphorylation caused by histamine in cells maintained in medium 199. Downregulation of LKB1 by siRNA inhibited both phosphorylation and activity of eNOS and addition of the AMPK inhibitor Compound C had no further effect on eNOS phosphorylation. When experiments were carried out in medium 1640, STO-609 totally prevented the phosphorylation of AMPK without affecting eNOS phosphorylation. AMPKα2 downregulation resulted in a loss of the integrity of the endothelial monolayer and increased expression of GRP78, indicative of endoplasmic reticular (ER) stress. Downregulation of AMPKα1 had no such effect. The results show that culture conditions affect endothelial signal transduction pathways after histamine stimulation. Under conditions where intracellular ATP is lowered by histamine, AMPK is activated by both LKB1 and CaMKK and, in turn, mediates eNOS phosphorylation in an LKB1 dependent manner. Both AMPKα1 and -α2 are involved in the signaling. Under conditions where intracellular ATP is unchanged after histamine treatment, CaMKK alone activates AMPK and eNOS is phosphorylated and activated independent of AMPK.

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