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Immunology. 1996 Jan;87(1):141-8.

Thy-1-mediated activation of rat mast cells: the role of Thy-1 membrane microdomains.

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Institute of Molecular Genetics, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Praha, Czech Republic.


The glycosyl-phosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored glycoprotein Thy-1 is one of the most abundant molecules expressed on the surface of rat mast cells and rat basophilic leukemia (RBL) cells. The finding that Thy-1 from detergent-solubilized RBL-2H3 cells forms complexes with src-related protein-tyrosine kinase p56/p53lyn suggested that this kinase may play a key role in Thy-1-mediated mast-cell activation. The molecular mechanism of this activation is, however, unknown. Here we show that in RBL-2H3-derived cells extracted by the standard procedure with several non-ionic detergents, the majority of Thy-1 and p56/p53lyn were not released into postnuclear supernatant but remained associated with the detergent-resistant cytoskeletal/nuclear fraction. Pretreatment of the cells with the cholesterol-complexing agents, saponin or digitonin, resulted in complete solubilization of Thy-1 and p56/p53lyn in non-ionic detergents and dissociation of the complexes; this implies that cholesterol plays a crucial role in stabilization of the complexes. This conclusion was supported by double immunofluorescence colocalization experiments which also allowed us to estimate the size of the insoluble complexes to be about 0.1 micron. Sequential treatment with saponin and Nonidet P-40 was used to fractionate tyrosine-phosphorylated proteins during Thy-1-mediated activation of RBL-2H3 cells. Among the soluble cytoplasmic proteins the most dramatic change in tyrosine phosphorylation was found in pp72, whereas pp40 and pp33 were found mainly in the membrane fraction. Our data suggest that surface aggregation of GPI-anchored Thy-1 molecules leads to aggregation of p56/p53lyn kinase located in the same membrane microdomain, followed by transphosphorylation of both soluble and membrane-bound substrates.

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