Endothelin A (ETA) transmembrane receptors predominate in rat cardiac myocytes. These are G proteincoupled receptors whose actions are mediated by the Gq heterotrimeric G proteins. Through these, ET-1 binding to ETAreceptors stimulates the hydrolysis of membrane phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate to diacylglycerol and inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate. Diacylglycerol remains in the membrane whereas inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate is soluble (though its importance in the cardiac myocyte is still debated). Isoforms of the phospholipid-dependent protein kinase, protein kinase C (PKC), are intracellular receptors for diacylglycerol. Cytoplasmic nPKCδ and nPKCε detect increases in membrane diacylglycerols and translocate to the membrane. This brings about PKC activation, though modifications additional to binding to phospholipids and diacylglycerol are involved. The next event (probably associated with PKC activation) is the activation of the membrane-bound small G protein Ras by exchange of GTP for GDP. Ras.GTP loading translocates Raf family mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) kinase kinases to the membrane, initiates the activation of Raf, and thus activates the extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) cascade. Over longer times, two analogous protein kinase cascades, the c-Jun N-terminal kinase and p38-mitogen-activated protein kinase cascades, become activated. As the signals originating from the ETA receptor are transmitted through these protein kinase pathways, other signalling molecules become phosphorylated, thus changing their biological activities. For example, ET-1 increases the expression of the c-jun transcription factor gene, and increases abundance and phosphorylation of c-Jun protein. These changes in c-Jun expression and phosphorylation are likely to be important in the regulation of gene transcription.
Keywords: phospholipid-dependent signalling, diacylglycerol, protein kinase c, small g proteins, mitogen-activated protein kinase cascades, extracellular signal-regulated kinases, stress-activated protein kinases, c-jun transcription factor