Vascular wall stretch is the major stimulus for the myogenic response of small arteries to pressure. The molecular mechanisms are elusive, but recent findings suggest that G protein–coupled receptors can elicit a stretch response.Objective:
To determine whether angiotensin II type 1 receptors (AT1R) in vascular smooth muscle cells exert mechanosensitivity and identify the downstream ion channel mediators of myogenic vasoconstriction.Methods and Results:
We used mice deficient in AT1R signaling molecules and putative ion channel targets, namely AT1R, angiotensinogen, transient receptor potential channel 6 (TRPC6) channels, or several subtypes of the voltage-gated K+ (Kv7) gene family (KCNQ3, 4, or 5). We identified a mechanosensing mechanism in isolated mesenteric arteries and in the renal circulation that relies on coupling of the AT1R subtype a to a Gq/11 protein as a critical event to accomplish the myogenic response. Arterial mechanoactivation occurs after pharmacological block of AT1R and in the absence of angiotensinogen or TRPC6 channels. Activation of AT1R subtype a by osmotically induced membrane stretch suppresses an XE991-sensitive Kv channel current in patch-clamped vascular smooth muscle cells, and similar concentrations of XE991 enhance mesenteric and renal myogenic tone. Although XE991-sensitive KCNQ3, 4, and 5 channels are expressed in vascular smooth muscle cells, XE991-sensitive K+ current and myogenic contractions persist in arteries deficient in these channels.Conclusions:
Our results provide definitive evidence that myogenic responses of mouse mesenteric and renal arteries rely on ligand-independent, mechanoactivation of AT1R subtype a. The AT1R subtype a signal relies on an ion channel distinct from TRPC6 or KCNQ3, 4, or 5 to enact vascular smooth muscle cell activation and elevated vascular resistance.