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J Cell Physiol. 1993 Jun;155(3):505-19.

Okadaic acid-induced actin assembly in neutrophils: role of protein phosphatases.

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Department of Medicine, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Activation of neutrophils results in morphological and functional alterations including changes in cell shape and initiation of motile behavior that depend on assembly and reorganization of the actin cytoskeleton. Phosphoproteins are thought to be key intermediates in the regulation of cytoskeletal alterations and whereas much attention has been directed at the role of protein kinases, relatively little information is available on the importance of phosphatases. To elucidate the role of protein phosphatases, we studied the effects of the phosphatase inhibitors okadaic acid and calyculin A on the actin cytoskeleton of human neutrophils. Exposure of cells to okadaic acid resulted in assembly and spatial redistribution of actin, which peaked at 25 min and returned to baseline levels by 45 min, as assessed by flow cytometric analysis of NBD-phallacidin stained cells and confocal fluorescence microscopy, respectively. These effects correlated with an increase in protein phosphorylation, determined by incorporation of 32P into cellular proteins using SDS-PAGE and autoradiography. Similar but more rapid responses were observed in electropermeabilized cells treated with okadaic acid or calyculin A. The dose dependence of these effects was compatible with a role for phosphatase type 1 as the target enzyme. These findings also suggested the presence of constitutively active protein kinases capable of effecting actin polymerization. Phosphorylation of myosin light chain (MLC) has been postulated to promote actin assembly, but myosin light chain kinase (MLCK) appeared not to be involved because: (1) the effect of okadaic acid was not inhibited by the MLCK inhibitor KT5926 and (2) in permeabilized cells suspended in medium with free calcium [Ca2+] < 10 nM (conditions under which MLCK is inactive), the effect of okadaic acid persisted. The role of phosphatases in stimulus-induced actin assembly was assessed in cells preincubated with okadaic acid for 45 min, after F-actin levels had returned to baseline. Under these conditions, okadaic acid completely abrogated actin assembly induced by phorbol myristate acetate, platelet activating factor, and leukotriene B4, whereas the effects of the chemotactic peptide fMLP and opsonized zymosan (OpZ) were unaffected. We conclude that serine and threonine phosphatases exert a tonic negative influence on actin assembly and organization. Furthermore, divergent pathways seem to mediate the response to lipidic stimuli, on one hand, and fMLP and OpZ, on the other, as evidenced by the differential susceptibility to inhibition by okadaic acid.

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