1. The mechanism of trypsin-induced contraction in the rat myometrium was investigated using front-surface fluorimetry on fura-PE3-loaded strips. The expression of protease-activated receptors (PARs) in the rat myometrium was determined by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). 2. In non-pregnant rats, 10 μM trypsin developed a force of up to 30.5 ± 5.1% of that obtained during the 40 mM K+-depolarization-induced contraction. In pregnant rats, the maximal level of the cytosolic Ca2+ concentration and tension obtained with 3 μM trypsin was 143.2±6.0% and 63.2±7.9%, respectively. The depletion of the extracellular Ca2+ abolished the trypsin-induced contraction. 3. Trypsin-induced contraction was abolished by the pre-treatment of a serine protease inhibitor. PAR1-activating peptide (PAR1-AP) caused a potent contraction of the myometrium, while neither PAR2-AP nor PAR4-AP induced any contraction. 4. RT-PCR analysis detected the expression of PAR1 mRNA. However, neither PAR2 nor PAR4 mRNA was detected in the rat myometrium. 5. Once the strips were stimulated with thrombin, the subsequent application of thrombin failed to induce any contraction, while trypsin induced a contraction similar to that observed without the prestimulation with thrombin. Once the strip was stimulated with trypsin, neither trypsin nor thrombin induced any contraction. The response to PAR1-AP remained after the pre-stimulation with thrombin and trypsin. 6. In conclusion, PAR1 was the only known receptor for trypsin expressed in the rat myometrium, but it was suggested to be cleaved and inactivated by trypsin. Trypsin was thus suggested to contract the rat myometrium via a novel type of PAR, which might be upregulated during pregnancy.
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