During sepsis, endothelial barrier dysfunction contributes to cardiovascular failure, mainly through the release of oxidative metabolites by penetrant leukocytes. We reported the non-muscular isoform of myosin light chain kinase (nmMLCK) playing a pivotal role in endotoxin shock injury associated with oxidative and nitrative stresses, and vascular hyporeactivity. The present study was aimed at understanding the molecular mechanism of lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced vascular alterations as well as studying a probable functional association of nmMLCK with nuclear factor κ-light-chain enhancer of activated B cells (NF-κB). Aortic rings from mice were exposed in vitro to LPS and, then, vascular reactivity was measured. Human aortic endothelial cells (HAoECs) were incubated with LPS, and interaction of nmMLCK with NF-κB was analysed. We provide evidence that nmMLCK deletion prevents vascular hyporeactivity induced by in vitro LPS treatment but not endothelial dysfunction in the aorta. Deletion of nmMLCK inhibits LPS-induced NF-κB activation and increases nitric oxide (NO) release via induction of inducible NO synthase (iNOS) within the vascular wall. Also, removal of endothelium prevented both NF-κB and iNOS expression in aortic rings. Among the proinflammatory factors released by LPS-treated endothelial cells, interleukin-6 accounts for the induction of iNOS on smooth muscle cells in response to LPS. Of particular interest is the demonstration that, in HAoECs, LPS-induced NF-κB activation occurs via increased MLCK activity sensitive to the MLCK inhibitor, ML-7, and physical interactions between nmMLCK and NF-κB. We report for the first time on NF-κB as a novel partner of nmMLCK within endothelial cells. The present study demonstrates a pivotal role of nmMLCK in vascular inflammatory pathologies.

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