Rabbit iris smooth muscle was prelabelled with myo-[3H]inositol for 90 min and the effect of carbachol on the accumulation of inositol phosphates from phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate [PtdIns(4,5)P2], phosphatidylinositol 4-phosphate (PtdIns4P) and phosphatidylinositol (PtdIns) was monitored with anion-exchange chromatography. Carbachol stimulated the accumulation of inositol phosphates and this was blocked by atropine, a muscarinic antagonist, and it was unaffected by 2-deoxyglucose. The data presented demonstrate that, in the iris, carbachol (50 microM) stimulates the rapid breakdown of PtdIns(4,5)P2 into [3H]inositol trisphosphate (InsP3) and diacylglycerol, measured as phosphatidate, and that the accumulation of InsP3 precedes that of [3H]inositol bisphosphate (InsP2) and [3H]inositol phosphate (InsP). This conclusion is based on the following findings. Time course experiments with myo-[3H]inositol revealed that carbachol increased the accumulation of InsP3 by 12% in 15s and by 23% in 30s; in contrast, a significant increase in InsP release was not observed until about 2 min. Time-course experiments with 32P revealed a 10% loss of radioactivity from PtdIns(4,5)P2 and a corresponding 10% increase in phosphatidate labelling by carbachol in 15s; in contrast a significant increase in PtdIns labelling occurred in 5 min. Dose-response studies revealed that 5 microM-carbachol significantly increased (16%) the accumulation of InsP3 whereas a significant increase in accumulation of InsP2 and InsP was observed only at agonist concentrations greater than 10 microM. Studies on the involvement of Ca2+ in the agonist-stimulated breakdown of PtdIns(4,5)P2 in the iris revealed the following. Marked stimulation (58-78%) of inositol phosphates accumulation by carbachol in 10 min was observed in the absence of extracellular Ca2+. Like the stimulatory effect of noradrenaline, the ionophore A23187-stimulated accumulation of InsP3 was inhibited by prazosin, an alpha 1-adrenergic blocker, thus suggesting that the ionophore stimulation of PtdIns(4,5)P2 breakdown we reported previously [Akhtar & Abdel-Latif (1978) J. Pharmacol. Exp. Ther. 204, 655-688; Akhtar & Abdel-Latif (1980) Biochem. J. 192, 783-791] was secondary to the release of noradrenaline by the ionophore. The carbachol-stimulated accumulation of inositol phosphates was inhibited by EGTA (0.25 mM) and this inhibition was reversed by excess Ca2+ (1.5 mM), suggesting that EGTA treatment of the tissue chelates extracellular Ca2+ required for polyphosphoinositide phosphodiesterase activity. K+ depolarization, which causes influx of extracellular Ca2+ in smooth muscle, did not change the level of InsP3.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

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