Recombinant monocyte-chemotactic and activating factor (rMCAF; alternative acronyms MCP-1, TDCF, human JE) induced migration of human monocytes across polycarbonate or nitrocellulose filters. Maximal induction of migration was observed at a concentration of 10 ng/ml (10(-9) M). Checkerboard analysis revealed that rMCAF elicited true gradient-dependent chemotactic migration, although a gradient independent chemokinetic effect was observed at low concentrations (1-5 ng/ml). rMCAF caused a rapid (less than 5 s) and transient (approximately 1.5 min) increase of free cytosolic Ca2+ ions, as assessed by the fura-2 probe. No Ca2+ increase was detected in neutrophils or lymphocytes stimulated by rMCAF. Studies conducted in the absence of extracellular Ca2+ or in the presence of Ni2+ (an inhibitor of Ca2+ influx) suggested that the increase of intracellular Ca2+ induced by rMCAF is dependent on the influx of extracellular Ca2+ through plasma membrane channels. Bordetella pertussis toxin inhibited the intracellular Ca2+ elevation and chemotaxis caused by rMCAF. The possible involvement of Ca(2+)-dependent protein kinases in rMCAF signaling pathway(s) was explored using inhibitors. Inhibitors of GMP-dependent kinase and myosin L chain kinase had no effect on rMCAF-induced monocyte migration. In contrast, protein kinase C/cAMP-dependent kinase inhibitors (such as, C-I, H-7, HA-1004, KT5720, and Staurosporine) markedly decreased rMCAF induced chemotaxis suggesting the involvement of a serine/threonine protein kinase, possibly protein kinase C, in rMCAF signaling pathway.