The mineralocorticoid hormone aldosterone acts on target cells of kidney, colon, and the cardiovascular system through genomic and nongenomic pathways. Although the classical intracellular mineralocorticoid receptor plays a key role in mediating both pathways, it is unclear whether there are specific aldosterone receptors located on the cell surface. To search for such sites in vascular endothelium, we used an atomic force microscope (AFM) which measures unbinding forces based on single molecular recognition between an aldosterone-loaded AFM tip and the cell membrane. Aldosterone was tethered covalently via linker molecules to an AFM tip. Human endothelial cells (EA.hy926) were grown in culture and studied in buffer at 37°C. Using the aldosterone-functionalized AFM tip as a mechanical nanoscale indenter, unbinding forces could be measured at randomly chosen sites of the plasma membrane. Sites with strong interactions between AFM tip and cell surface could be identified exhibiting unbinding forces of about 65 pN. The binding probability between the aldosterone-loaded tip and the cell surface at selected membrane sites was 53∈±∈7.2%. Addition of an excess supply of aldosterone to the bath solution blocked the binding of the aldosterone-loaded tip to the cell surface. The binding probability was reduced to 8.0∈±∈1.8% when an excess supply of aldosterone was added to the bath. However, it was not influenced by the addition of spironolactone or dexamethasone. We conclude that aldosterone receptor sites exist on the cell surface of vascular endothelial cells distinct from the classical mineralocorticoid receptors and insensitive to glucocorticoids. Binding of aldosterone to these receptors initiates an intracellular signaling cascade that precedes the classical genomic response and most likely participates in the control of vascular resistance.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)