p63RhoGEF, a guanine nucleotide exchange factor, has been reported ‘in vitro’ as key mediator of the angiotensin II-induced RhoA/Rho kinase activation leading to vasoconstriction and cardiovascular remodeling. We assessed p63RhoGEF gene and protein expression and RhoA/Rho kinase activity in essential hypertensive and Bartter's and Gitelman's syndrome patients, a human model opposite to hypertension; the latter have, in fact, increased plasma angiotensin II, activation of the renin–angiotensin system, yet normotension/hypotension, reduced peripheral resistance and lack of cardiovascular remodeling due to an endogenously blunted angiotensin II type 1 receptor signaling.
Mononuclear cell p63RhoGEF gene and protein expression and the phosphorylation status of the myosin phosphatase target protein-1 (MYPT-1), marker of Rho kinase activity, were assessed in essential hypertensive patients, Bartter's/Gitelman's patients and healthy individuals by quantitative real-time PCR and western blot.
p63RhoGEF mRNA and protein level and MYPT-1 phosphorylation status were higher in hypertensive patients and lower in Bartter's/Gitelman's patients compared with healthy individuals: p63RhoGEF mRNA level: 0.59 ± 0.17 ΔΔCt vs. 0.37 ± 0.17 vs. 0.20 ± 0.19, analysis of variance (ANOVA): P <0.016; p63RhoGEF protein level 1.35 ± 0.14 vs. 1.09 ± 0.05 vs. 0.90 ± 0.09 densitometric units, ANOVA: P <0.0001; MYPT-1: 1.39 ± 0.34 vs. 1.01 ± 0.12 vs. 0.81 ± 0.06, ANOVA: P < 0.0001. p63RhoGEF mRNA was significantly correlated with both SBP and DBP in both hypertensive patients (R = 0.79, P < 0.02 and R = 0.78, P < 0.02) and in Bartter's syndrome/Gitelman's syndrome patients (R = 0.87, P < 0.001 and R = 0.86, P < 0.001), respectively.
Increased p63RhoGEF mRNA and protein level and Rho kinase activity are shown for the first time in essential hypertensive patients, whereas the opposite was found in Bartter's/Gitelman's patients, a human model opposite to hypertension. These results combined with other ‘in-vitro’ studies strongly support the crucial importance of p63RhoGEF in Ang II-mediated signaling involved in the regulation of blood pressure and its long-term complications in humans.