Background: Dopamine signaling is mediated by Gs protein-coupled " D1-like" receptors (D1 and D5) and Gi-coupled " D2-like" receptors (D2-4). In asthmatic patients, inhaled dopamine induces bronchodilation. Although the Gi-coupled dopamine D2 receptor is expressed and sensitizes adenylyl cyclase activity in airway smooth muscle (ASM) cells, the Gs-coupled dopamine D1-like receptor subtypes have never been identified on these cells. Activation of Gs-coupled receptors stimulates cyclic AMP (cAMP) production through the stimulation of adenylyl cyclase, which promotes ASM relaxation. We questioned whether the dopamine D1-like receptor is expressed on ASM, and modulates its function through Gs-coupling.Methods: The mRNA and protein expression of dopamine D1-like receptor subtypes in both native human and guinea pig ASM tissue and cultured human ASM (HASM) cells was measured. To characterize the stimulation of cAMP through the dopamine D1 receptor, HASM cells were treated with dopamine or the dopamine D1-like receptor agonists (A68930 or SKF38393) before cAMP measurements. To evaluate whether the activation of dopamine D1 receptor induces ASM relaxation, guinea pig tracheal rings suspended under isometric tension in organ baths were treated with cumulatively increasing concentrations of dopamine or A68930, following an acetylcholine-induced contraction with or without the cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA) inhibitor Rp-cAMPS, the large-conductance calcium-activated potassium (BKCa) channel blocker iberiotoxin, or the exchange proteins directly activated by cAMP (Epac) antagonist NSC45576.Results: Messenger RNA encoding the dopamine D1 and D5 receptors were detected in native human ASM tissue and cultured HASM cells. Immunoblots confirmed the protein expression of the dopamine D1 receptor in both native human and guinea pig ASM tissue and cultured HASM cells. The dopamine D1 receptor was also immunohistochemically localized to both human and guinea pig ASM. The dopamine D1-like receptor agonists stimulated cAMP production in HASM cells, which was reversed by the selective dopamine D1-like receptor antagonists SCH23390 or SCH39166. A68930 relaxed acetylcholine-contracted guinea pig tracheal rings, which was attenuated by Rp-cAMPS but not by iberiotoxin or NSC45576.Conclusions: These results demonstrate that the dopamine D1 receptors are expressed on ASM and regulate smooth muscle force via cAMP activation of PKA, and offer a novel target for therapeutic relaxation of ASM.
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