Weiwei Shi

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Chun Jiang - Chair

Second Advisor

Deborah Baro

Third Advisor

Walter William Walthall

Fourth Advisor

Delon W. Barfuss


Septic shock is a major cause of deaths resulting from uncontrolled inflammation and circulatory failure. Recent studies suggest that the vascular isoform of ATP-sensitive K+ (KATP) channels is an important contributor to septic susceptibility. To understand the molecular mechanisms for channel regulation during sepsis, we performed studies in isolated endothelium-denuded mesenteric rings. Lipopolysaccharides (LPS) induced vascular relaxation and hyporeactivity to phenylephrine. The LPS-treated aortic smooth muscle cells displayed hyperpolarization and augmentation of KATP channel activity. Both were due to an up-regulation of Kir6.1 and SUR2B surface expression. The up-regulation relied on transcriptional and translational mechanisms, in which nuclear factor-¦ÊB (NF-¦ÊB) and Protein kinase A (PKA) played a critical role. Oxidative stress occurs during sepsis and may act as another regulatory mechanism affecting KATP channel activity and vascular contractility. We found that micromolar concentrations of H2O2 impaired the pinacidil-induced vasodilation. The effect attributed to the suppression of KATP channel activity, which can be fully produced by reactivity oxidants. Unlike the Kir6.1/SUR2B channel, the Kir6.2/SUR2B channel was insensitive to 1mM H2O2, indicating that the modulation sites are located in Kir6.1. Site-directed mutational analysis showed that three cysteine residues located in N-terminus and the core region of Kir6.1 were likely to mediate the redox-dependent channel modulation. Arginine vasopressin (AVP) is a vasoconstrictor that is successfully applied to manage sepsis. However, the downstream target of AVP is uncertain. Our studies show that AVP-induced vasoconstriction depended on V1a receptor, Protein kinase C (PKC) and KATP channel. Additionally, AVP decreased Kir6.1/SUR2B channel activity through V1a receptor. The inhibitory effect was caused by a suppression of the channel open state probability. The channel inhibition was mediated by phosphorylation of the channel protein by PKC. The widespread involvement of the vascular KATP channel in vascular responses to endotoxemia strongly suggests that the temporospatial control of channel activity may constitute an important intervention to vascular tone, blood pressure and organ-tissue perfusion in septic shock. Such a control appears feasible by targeting several modulatory mechanisms of intracellular signaling, Kir6.1/SUR2B expression, redox state and channel protein phosphorylation as demonstrated in this dissertation.