Intracellular Ca2+ regulates the phosphorylation and the dephosphorylation of ciliary proteins via the NO pathway

Irena Gertsberg, Vardit Hellman, Michal Fainshtein, Simy Weil, Shai D. Silberberg, Michael Danilenko, Zvi Priel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


The phosphorylation profile of ciliary proteins under basal conditions and after stimulation by extracellular ATP was investigated in intact tissue and in isolated cilia from porcine airway epithelium using anti-phosphoserine and anti-phosphothreonine specific antibodies. In intact tissue, several polypeptides were serine phosphorylated in the absence of any treatment (control conditions). After stimulation by extracellular ATP, changes in the phosphorylation pattern were detected on seven ciliary polypeptides. Serine phosphorylation was enhanced for three polypeptides (27, 37, and 44 kD), while serine phosphorylation was reduced for four polypeptides (35, 69, 100, and 130 kD). Raising intracellular Ca2+ with ionomycin induced identical changes in the protein phosphorylation profile. Inhibition of the NO pathway by inhibiting either NO syntase (NOS), guanylyl cyclase (GC), or cGMP-dependent protein kinase (PKG) abolished the changes in phosphorylation induced by ATP. The presence of PKG within the axoneme was demonstrated using a specific antibody. In addition, in isolated permeabilized cilia, submicromolar concentrations of cGMP induced protein phosphorylation. Taken together, these results suggest that the axoneme is an integral part of the intracellular NO pathway. The surprising observation that ciliary activation is accompanied by sustained dephosphorylation of ciliary proteins via NO pathway was not detected in isolated cilia, suggesting that the protein phosphatases were either lost or deactivated during the isolation procedure. This work reveals that any pharmacological manipulation that abolished phosphorylation and dephosphorylation also abolished the enhancement of ciliary beating. Thus, part or all of the phosphorylated polypeptides are likely directly involved in axonemal regulation of ciliary beating.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)527-540
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of General Physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2004


  • Airway epithelium
  • Axoneme
  • CGMP
  • Extracellular ATP
  • Phosphatases

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology


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