Nitric oxide (NO) and prostacyclin trigger well-defined vasodilator pathways; however, substantial vasorelaxation in response to agents such as acetylcholine persists when the synthesis of these molecules is prevented.
This remaining vasorelaxation activity, termed endothelium-derived hyperpolarizing factor (EDHF), is more prevalent in resistance than in conduit blood vessels and is considered a major mechanism for blood pressure control.
Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) has been shown to be a major component of EDHF in several vascular beds in multiple species, including in humans. H2O2 causes the formation of a disulfide bond between the two α subunits of protein kinase G I-α (PKGI-α), which activates the kinase independently of the NO-cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) pathway and is coupled to vasodilation.
To test the importance of PKGI-α oxidation in the EDHF mechanism and blood pressure control in vivo, we generated a knock-in mouse expressing only a C42S 'redox-dead' version of PKGI-α. This amino acid substitution, a single-atom change (an oxygen atom replacing a sulfur atom), blocked the vasodilatory action of H2O2 on resistance vessels and resulted in hypertension in vivo.