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J Biol Chem. 1992 Nov 25;267(33):23957-62.

Interaction between protein kinase C-dependent and G protein-dependent pathways in the regulation of natural killer cell granule exocytosis.

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Department of Immunology, Mayo Clinic and Foundation, Rochester, Minnesota 55905.


The binding of natural killer (NK) cells to either susceptible tumor cells or antibody-coated targets results in rapid activation of phospholipase C (PLC) in NK cells. PLC activation generates inositol-1,4,5-trisphosphate and sn-1,2-diacylglycerol as second messengers, which, in turn, increase intracellular free calcium concentrations ([Ca2+]i) and protein kinase C (PKC) activity, respectively. These proximal signals initiate a cascade of as yet undefined biochemical events, leading eventually to the exocytosis of preformed cytotoxic granules. To investigate the signal transduction pathways involved in granule exocytosis, we utilized streptolysin-O-permeabilized human NK cells as our experimental model. Our initial studies indicated that the separate activation of either PKC (using the phorbol ester, PMA) or G protein-dependent pathways (using guanosine-5'-O-(3-thiotriphosphate) (GTP gamma S)) stimulated granule exocytosis in a time-, concentration-, and Ca(2+)-dependent manner. PMA-stimulated exocytosis was inhibited by staurosporine or a PKC pseudosubstrate antagonist peptide, but was not affected by GDP. In contrast, GTP gamma S-stimulated exocytosis was effectively inhibited by GDP, but not by staurosporine or the PKC pseudosubstrate antagonist. These observations suggest that NK cell exocytosis can be stimulated by at least two separate pathways; one involving PKC and the other involving a G protein. However, co-stimulation with PMA and GTP gamma S synergistically enhanced exocytosis, suggesting that even though the two exocytotic pathways were biochemically distinct, cross-talk between the two pathways may potently influence the exocytotic process. These results define a regulatory role for PKC- and G protein-dependent pathways during granule exocytosis from NK cells.

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