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J Immunol. 2005 Mar 1;174(5):2687-95.

CD38 signaling regulates B lymphocyte activation via a phospholipase C (PLC)-gamma 2-independent, protein kinase C, phosphatidylcholine-PLC, and phospholipase D-dependent signaling cascade.

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Departments of Cell Biology, Centro de Investigación y Estudios Avanzados, Mexico D.F. Mexico.


The CD38 cell surface receptor is a potent activator for splenic, B lymphocytes. The molecular mechanisms regulating this response, however, remain incompletely characterized. Activation of the nonreceptor tyrosine kinase, Btk, is essential for CD38 downstream signaling function. The major Btk-dependent substrate in B cells, phospholipase C-gamma2 (PLC-gamma2), functions to generate the key secondary messengers, inositol-1,4,5 trisphosphate and diacylglycerol. Surprisingly, CD38 ligation results in no detectable increase in phosphoinositide metabolism and only a minimal increase in cytosolic calcium. We hypothesized that Btk functioned independently of PLC-gamma2 in the CD38 signaling pathway. Accordingly, we demonstrate that CD38 cross-linking does not result in the functional phosphorylation of PLC-gamma2 nor an increase in inositol-1,4,5 trisphosphate production. Furthermore, splenic B cells exhibit a normal CD38-mediated, proliferative response in the presence of the phosphoinositide-PLC inhibitor, U73122. Conversely, protein kinase C (PKC) beta-deficient mice, or PKC inhibitors, indicated the requirement for diacylglycerol-dependent PKC isoforms in this pathway. Loss of PKC activity blocked CD38-dependent, B cell proliferation, NF-kappaB activation, and subsequent expression of cyclin-D2. These results suggested that an alternate diacylglycerol-producing phospholipase must participate in CD38 signaling. Consistent with this idea, CD38 increased the enzymatic activity of the phosphatidylcholine (PC)-metabolizing enzymes, PC-PLC and phospholipase D. The PC-PLC inhibitor, D609, completely blocked CD38-dependent B cell proliferation, IkappaB-alpha degradation, and cyclin-D2 expression. Analysis of Btk mutant B cells demonstrated a partial requirement for Btk in the activation of both enzymes. Taken together, these data demonstrate that CD38 initiates a novel signaling cascade leading to Btk-, PC-PLC-, and phospholipase D-dependent, PLC-gamma2-independent, B lymphocyte activation.

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