We studied the role of tyrosine phosphorylation in the induction of vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 (VCAM-1), endothelial leukocyte adhesion molecule 1 (ELAM-1), and intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1) in HUVEC. Induction of VCAM-1 and ELAM-1 surface expression by TNF was dose-dependently reduced by pretreatment with the protein tyrosine kinase inhibitors herbimycin A (HMA, IC50 300 nM) or genistein (IC50 30 microM). Only genistein attenuated ICAM-1 induction. Genistein or HMA did not affect adhesion molecule up-regulation by PMA. U937 monocyte adhesion to TNF-stimulated HUVEC was markedly inhibited by a combination of anti-VCAM-1 and anti-ELAM-1 mAb, as well as by HMA or genistein, probably due to suppression of VCAM-1 and ELAM-1 up-regulation. HMA appeared to prevent VCAM-1 transcription, since it reduced induction of VCAM-1 mRNA by TNF. Gelshift analysis demonstrated inhibition of TNF-induced nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-kappa B) mobilization by HMA. TNF rapidly enhanced tyrosine phosphorylation of a protein migrating with an apparent molecular mass of 35 kDa. HMA and genistein suppressed constitutive tyrosine phosphorylation of all detectable proteins and prevented TNF-induced tyrosine phosphorylation of the 35 kDa protein with an IC50 and dose range, similar to inhibition of VCAM-1 and ELAM-1 induction. Our data suggest that specific phosphorylation following protein tyrosine kinase activation may be required for NF-kappa B mobilization and induction of VCAM-1 and ELAM-1 by TNF.