Molecular aspects of arterial smooth muscle contraction: Focus on Rho

Rob H.P. Hilgers, R. Clinton Webb

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review

85 Scopus citations


The vascular smooth muscle cell is a highly specialized cell whose primary function is contraction and relaxation. It expresses a variety of contractile proteins, ion channels, and signalling molecules that regulate contraction. Upon contraction, vascular smooth muscle cells shorten, thereby decreasing the diameter of a blood vessel to regulate the blood flow and pressure. Contractile activity in vascular smooth muscle cells is initiated by a Ca 2+-calmodulin interaction to stimulate phosphorylation of the light chain of myosin. Ca2+-sensitization of the contractile proteins is signaled by the RhoA/Rho-kinase pathway to inhibit the dephosphorylation of the light chain by myosin phosphatase, thereby maintaining force. Removal of Ca 2+ from the cytosol and stimulation of myoson phosphatase initiate the relaxation of vascular smooth muscle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)829-835
Number of pages7
JournalExperimental Biology and Medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - Dec 2005


  • Calcium
  • Contraction
  • Signaling
  • Smooth muscle
  • Vascular

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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