cGMP-dependent protein kinase 1α (PKG1α) promotes left ventricle (LV) compensation after pressure overload. PKG1-activating drugs improve heart failure (HF) outcomes but are limited by vasodilation-induced hypotension. Signaling molecules that mediate PKG1α cardiac therapeutic effects but do not promote PKG1α-induced hypotension could therefore represent improved therapeutic targets. We investigated roles of mixed lineage kinase 3 (MLK3) in mediating PKG1α effects on LV function after pressure overload and in regulating BP. In a transaortic constriction HF model, PKG activation with sildenafil preserved LV function in MLK3+/+ but not MLK3–/– littermates. MLK3 coimmunoprecipitated with PKG1α. MLK3-PKG1α cointeraction decreased in failing LVs. PKG1α phosphorylated MLK3 on Thr277/Ser281 sites required for kinase activation. MLK3–/– mice displayed hypertension and increased arterial stiffness, though PKG stimulation with sildenafil or the soluble guanylate cyclase (sGC) stimulator BAY41-2272 still reduced BP in MLK3–/– mice. MLK3 kinase inhibition with URMC-099 did not affect BP but induced LV dysfunction in mice. These data reveal MLK3 as a PKG1α substrate mediating PKG1α preservation of LV function but not acute PKG1α BP effects. Mechanistically, MLK3 kinase–dependent effects preserved LV function, whereas MLK3 kinase–independent signaling regulated BP. These findings suggest augmenting MLK3 kinase activity could preserve LV function in HF but avoid hypotension from PKG1α activation.
Timothy D. Calamaras, Suchita Pande, Robert A.U. Baumgartner, Seung Kyum Kim, Joseph C. McCarthy, Gregory L. Martin, Kelly Tam, Angela L. McLaughlin, Guang-rong Wang, Mark J. Aronovitz, Weiyu Lin, Jonathan I. Aguirre, Paulina Baca, Peiwen Liu, Daniel A. Richards, Roger J. Davis, Richard H. Karas, Iris Z. Jaffe, Robert M. Blanton