A number of cell-surface proteins are anchored by a phosphatidylinositol (PI)-glycan moiety. These proteins can be released by PI-specific phospholipases C (PI-PLC). Decay-accelerating factor (DAF) is such a cell-surface protein that protects cells from inadvertent complement attack by binding to and inactivating C3 and C5 convertases. We have studied the regulation of DAF synthesis in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC), a cell that has the highest level of surface DAF among those human cells that have been studied. HUVEC DAF was measured by immunoradiometric assay of detergent extracts and of cell supernatants after treatment of cells with a bacterial (Bacillus thuringiensis) PI-PLC. Eighty percent of the HUVEC DAF (4 to 8 x 10(5) molecules/cell) was released by exogenously added PI-PLC, indicating that it is predominantly PI-anchored. The level of PI-PLC-sensitive HUVEC DAF was increased three- to fourfold by overnight treatment of cultures with the protein kinase C activators, PMA (1 to 10 nM), phorbol-12,13-dibutyrate (10 to 100 nM), and teleocidin A (1 to 10 nM) under conditions where cell number, protein, and lactate dehydrogenase remain unchanged. This DAF synthesis was blocked by the protein kinase C inhibitor K-252a in a dose-dependent manner (ED50 = 0.06 microM). The biologically inactive phorbols, 4-alpha-phorbol-12 myristate-13-acetate (1 microM) and 4-alpha-phorbol-12, 13-didecanoate (1 microM) did not increase DAF levels. The newly expressed DAF in PMA-stimulated cells was still largely PI-anchored. In contrast, another PI-anchored protein, alkaline phosphatase, was not altered by PMA treatment, demonstrating that the PMA effect is not uniform among all surface proteins. The increased expression of DAF only was evident 8 h after PMA addition and was blocked by the RNA and protein synthesis inhibitors, actinomycin D and cycloheximide, indicating that both transcription and translation are required for DAF synthesis induced by phorbol esters. It is concluded that protein kinase C activators cause selective induction of endothelial cell DAF and that DAF synthesis involves protein kinase C activation.

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