Cholesterol depletion inhibits epidermal growth factor receptor transactivation by angiotensin II in vascular smooth muscle cells: Role of cholesterol-rich microdomains and focal adhesions in angiotensin II signaling

Masuko Ushio-Fukai, Lula Hilenski, Nalini Santanam, Peter L. Becker, Yuxian Ma, Kathy K. Griendling, R. Wayne Alexander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

182 Scopus citations


Angiotensin II (Ang II) induces transactivation of the epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor (EGF-R), which serves as a scaffold for various signaling molecules in vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs). Cholesterol and sphingomyelin-enriched lipid rafts are plasma membrane microdomains that concentrate various signaling molecules. Caveolae are specialized lipid rafts that are organized by the cholesterol-binding protein, caveolin, and have been shown to be associated with EGF-Rs. Angiotensin II stimulation promotes a rapid movement of AT1 receptors to caveolae; however, their functional role in angiotensin II signaling has not been elucidated. Here we show that cholesterol depletion by β-cyclodextrin disrupts caveolae structure and concomitantly inhibits tyrosine phosphorylation of the EGF-R and subsequent activation of protein kinase B (PKB)/Akt induced by angiotensin II. Similar inhibitory effects were obtained with other cholesterol-binding agents, filipin and nystatin. In contrast, EGF-R autophosphorylation and activation of Akt/PKB in response to EGF are not affected by cholesterol depletion. The early Ang II-induced upstream signaling events responsible for transactivation of the EGF-R, such as the intracellular Ca2+ increase and c-Src activation, also remain intact. The EGF-R initially binds caveolin, but these two proteins rapidly dissociate following angiotensin II stimulation during the time when EGF-R transactivation is observed. The activated EGF-R is localized in focal adhesions together with tyrosine-phosphorylated caveolin. These findings suggest that 1) a scaffolding role of caveolin is essential for EGF-R transactivation by angiotensin II and 2) cholesterol-rich microdomains as well as focal adhesions are important signal-organizing compartments required for the spatial and temporal organization of angiotensin II signaling in VSMCs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)48269-48275
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number51
StatePublished - Dec 21 2001
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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