The mechanisms whereby activation of the cyclic AMP-dependent protein kinase A or the Ca2+-phospholipid-dependent protein kinase C amplifies insulin release were studied with mouse islets. Forskolin and the phorbol ester 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol 13-acetate (TPA) were used to stimulate adenylate cyclase and protein kinase C respectively. The sulphonylurea tolbutamide was used to initiate insulin release in the presence of 3 mM-glucose. Tolbutamide alone inhibited 86Rb+ efflux, depolarized beta-cell membrane, triggered electrical activity, accelerated 45Ca2+ influx and efflux and stimulated insulin release. Forskolin alone only slightly inhibited 86Rb+ efflux, but markedly increased the effects of tolbutamide on electrical activity, 45Ca2+ influx and efflux, and insulin release. In the absence of Ca2+, only the inhibition of 86Rb+ efflux persisted. TPA (100 nM) alone slightly accelerated 45Ca2+ efflux and insulin release without affecting 45Ca2+ influx or beta-cell membrane potential. It increased the effects of tolbutamide on 45Ca2+ efflux and insulin release without changing 86Rb+ efflux, 45Ca2+ influx or electrical activity. Omission of extracellular Ca2+ suppressed all effects due to the combination of TPA and tolbutamide, but not those of TPA alone. Though ineffective alone, 10 nM-TPA amplified the releasing action of tolbutamide without affecting its ionic and electrical effects. In conclusion, the two amplification systems of insulin release involve at least partially distinct mechanisms. The cyclic AMP but not the protein kinase C system initiating signal (Ca2+ influx) triggered by the primary secretagogue.

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