Resting or phorbol myristate acetate (PMA)-pretreated neutrophils were disrupted by nitrogen cavitation and were fractionated on Percoll density gradients to identify the subcellular location of PMA receptors. Receptors were found in the cytoplasm of resting cells; neither primary nor secondary granules bound [3H]PMA, and the few binding sites located in non-granule membrane fractions appeared to reflect cytosolic contamination. Contrastingly, PMA-pretreated cells lost cytosolic receptors; greater than 80% of PMA-binding sites were associated with non-granule membranes. Protein kinase C activity similarly shifted from cytosol to membranes after PMA treatment. Indeed, protein kinase C and PMA receptors co-sedimented on Percoll gradients, co-eluted from Ultragel AcA 44 columns loaded with neutrophil cytoplasm, and were identically influenced by various phospholipids. Finally, PMA, mezerein, diacylglycerol, and dialkylglycerol activated protein kinase C with potencies that paralleled their respective abilities to stimulate neutrophil aggregation responses and inhibit [3H]PMA binding to whole cells or cytosol. These results fit a model of stimulus-response coupling wherein exogenous PMA or endogenous diacylglycerol solvate in cellular membranes. Cytosolic protein kinase C binds to the intramembranous ligand, forming an active, membrane-associated complex that phosphorylates nearby elements involved in triggering aggregation and other responses.

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