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Mol Biol Cell. 1995 Sep;6(9):1145-58.

Wortmannin blocks lipid and protein kinase activities associated with PI 3-kinase and inhibits a subset of responses induced by Fc epsilon R1 cross-linking.

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Department of Pathology, University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Albuquerque 87131, USA.


We have investigated the effects of wortmannin, an inhibitor of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI 3-kinase), on antigen-mediated signaling in the RBL-2H3 mast cell model. In RBL-2H3 cells, the cross-linking of high affinity IgE receptors (Fc epsilon R1) activates at least two cytoplasmic protein tyrosine kinases, Lyn and Syk, and stimulates secretion, membrane ruffling, spreading, pinocytosis, and the formation of actin plaques implicated in increased cell-substrate adhesion. In addition, Fc epsilon R1 cross-linking activates PI 3-kinase. It was previously shown that wortmannin causes a dose-dependent inhibition of PI 3-kinase activity and also inhibits antigen-stimulated degranulation. We report that the antigen-induced synthesis of inositol(1,4,5)P3 is also markedly inhibited by wortmannin. Consistent with evidence in other cell systems implicating phosphatidylinositol(3,4,5)P3 in ruffling, pretreatment of RBL-2H3 cells with wortmannin inhibits membrane ruffling and fluid pinocytosis in response to Fc epsilon R1 cross-linking. However, wortmannin does not inhibit antigen-induced actin polymerization, receptor internalization, or the actin-dependent processes of spreading and adhesion plaque formation that follow antigen stimulation in adherent cells. Wortmannin also fails to inhibit either of the Fc epsilon R1-coupled tyrosine kinases, Lyn or Syk, or the activation of mitogen-activated protein kinase as measured by in vitro kinase assays. Strikingly, there is substantial in vitro serine/threonine kinase activity in immunoprecipitates prepared from Fc epsilon R1-activated cells using antisera to the p85 subunit of PI 3-kinase. This activity is inhibited by pretreatment of the cells with wortmannin or by the direct addition of wortmannin to the kinase assay, suggesting that PI 3-kinase itself is capable of acting as a protein kinase. We conclude that Fc epsilon R1 cross-linking activates both lipid and protein kinase activities of PI 3-kinase and that inhibiting these activities with wortmannin results in the selective block of a subset of Fc epsilon R1-mediated signaling responses.

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