To investigate the effect of blebbistatin (BLEB, a selective myosin inhibitor) on regulating contractility and growth of prostate cells and to provide insight into possible mechanisms associated with these actions. BLEB was incubated with cell lines of BPH-1 and WPMY-1, and intraprostatically injected into rats. Cell growth was determined by flow cytometry, and in vitro organ bath studies were performed to explore muscle contractility. Smooth muscle (SM) myosin isoform (SM1/2, SM-A/B, and LC17a/b) expression was determined via competitive reverse transcriptase PCR. SM myosin heavy chain (MHC), non-muscle (NM) MHC isoforms (NMMHC-A and NMMHC-B), and proteins related to cell apoptosis were further analyzed via Western blotting. Masson’s trichrome staining was applied to tissue sections. BLEB could dose-dependently trigger apoptosis and retard the growth of BPH-1 and WPMY-1. Consistent with in vitro effect, administration of BLEB to the prostate could decrease rat prostatic epithelial and SM cells via increased apoptosis. Western blotting confirmed the effects of BLEB on inducing apoptosis through a mechanism involving MLC20 dephosphorylation with down-regulation of Bcl-2 and up-regulation of BAX and cleaved caspase 3. Meanwhile, NMMHC-A and NMMHC-B, the downstream proteins of MLC20, were found significantly attenuated in BPH-1 and WPMY-1 cells, as well as rat prostate tissues. Additionally, BLEB decreased SM cell number and SM MHC expression, along with attenuated phenylephrine-induced contraction and altered prostate SMM isoform composition with up-regulation of SM-B and down-regulation of LC17a, favoring a faster contraction. Our novel data demonstrate BLEB regulated myosin expression and functional activity. The mechanism involved MLC20 dephosphorylation and altered SMM isoform composition.

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