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Calpain-2 Activates Akt via the TGF~ 1-mTORC2 Pathway in Pulmonary Artery Smooth Muscle CellsAbeyrathna, Prasanna; Deparment of Pharmacology and Toxicology (8/23/2016)Calpain is a family of calcium-dependent nonlysosomal neutral cysteine endopeptidases. Akt is a serine/threonine kinase that belongs to the AGC kinases and plays important roles in cell survival, growth, proliferation, angiogenesis, and cell metabolism. Both calpain and Akt are downstream signaling molecules of platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) and mediate PDGF-induced collagen synthesis and proliferation of pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells (PASMCs) in pulmonary vascular remodeling. We found that inhibition of calpain-2 using the calpain inhibitor MDL28170 and calpain-2 siRNA attenuated Akt phosphorylation at serine-473 (S473) and threonine-308 (T308) as well as collagen synthesis and cell proliferation ofPASMCs induced by PDGF. Overexpression of calpain-2 in PASMCs induced dramatic increases in Akt phosphorylation at S4 73 and T308. Moreover, knockout of calpain attenuated Akt phosphorylation at S473 and T308 in smooth muscle of pulmonary arterioles of mice with chronic hypoxic pulmonary hypertension. The cell-permeable specific TGF~ receptor inhibitor SB431542 attenuated Akt phosphorylation at both S473 and T308 induced by PDGF and overexpressed calpain- 2 in PASMCs. Moreover, SB-431452 and knock down of ALK5 significantly reduced PDGF-induced collagen synthesis and cell proliferation of PASMCs. Nevertheless, neutralizing extracellular TGF~l using a cell-impermeable TGF~l neutralizing antibody did not affect PDGF-induced Akt phosphorylation at S473 and T308. Further, inhibition of mTORC2 by knocking down its component protein Rictor prevented Akt phosphorylation at S473 and T308 induced by PDGF and overexpressed calpain-2. These data provide the first evidence supporting that calpain-2 up-regulates PDGF-induced Akt phosphorylation via an intracrine TGF~ 1/mTORC2 mechanism.