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Eur J Biochem. 1991 Jan 30;195(2):465-75.

Tumour-necrosis-factor-mediated cytotoxicity is correlated with phospholipase-A2 activity, but not with arachidonic acid release per se.

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Laboratory of Molecular Biology, State University of Gent, Belgium.


L929, a murine fibrosarcoma cell line highly sensitive to the anti-proliferative and cytotoxic action of tumour necrosis factor (TNF), was used as a target cell in our studies. We [Suffys et al. (1987) Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 149, 735-743], as well as others, have previously provided evidence that a phospholipase (PL), most probably a PL-A2-type enzyme, is likely to be involved in TNF-mediated cell killing. We now further document this conclusion and provide suggestive evidence that the enzyme activity specifically involved in TNF cytotoxicity differs from activities associated with the eventual cell death process itself or with non-toxic serum treatment. We also show that the 5,8,11,14-icosatetraenoic acid (arachidonic acid, delta 4 Ach) released by PL, and possibly metabolized, is unlikely to be a key mediator of the TNF-mediated cytotoxicity. These conclusions are based on the following experimental findings. 1. TNF treatment of cells, prelabelled for 24 h with [3H] delta 4Ach or [14C] delta 3Ach (delta 3Ach identical to 5,8,11-icosatrienoic acid) resulted in an early, time-dependent and concentration-dependent release of radioactivity in the supernatant preceding actual cell death. The extent of this response was moderate, albeit reproducible and significant. Analysis of the total lipid fraction from cells plus supernatant revealed that only release of arachidonic acid from phospholipids, but not its metabolization was induced by TNF. However, the release of less unsaturated fatty acids, such as linoleic acid (Lin) or palmitic acid (Pam), was not affected during the first hours after TNF addition. 2. An L929 subclone, selected for resistance to TNF toxicity, was found to be defective in TNF-induced delta 4Ach libration. 3. Interleukin-1 (IL1) was not cytotoxic for L929 and did not induce release of delta 4Ach. 4. Release of delta 4Ach was not restricted to TNF; the addition of serum to the cells also induced release of fatty acids into the medium. In this case, however, there was no specificity, as all fatty acids tested, including Lin and Pam, were released. 5. Inhibition of PL-A2 activity by appropriate drugs markedly diminished TNF-induced delta 4Ach release and resulted also in a strong decrease in TNF-induced cytotoxicity. 6. Other drugs, including serine protease inhibitors, which strongly inhibit TNF-induced cytotoxicity, also decreased the TNF-induced delta 4Ach release, whereas LiCl potentiated both TNF-mediated effects. 7. Protection of cells against TNF toxicity by means of various inhibitors was not counteracted by addition of exogenous fatty acids, including delta 4Ach.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS).

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