Members of the bombesin family of peptides potently stimulate insulin release by HIT-T15 cells, a clonal pancreatic cell line. The response to bombesin consists of a large burst in secretion during the first 30 s, followed by a smaller elevation of the secretory rate, which persists for 90 min. The aim of this study was to identify the intracellular messengers involved in this biphasic secretory response. Addition of 100 nM-bombesin to cells for 20 s increased the cellular accumulation of [3H]diacylglycerol (DAG) by 40% and that of [3H]inositol monophosphate (InsP), bisphosphate (InsP2) and trisphosphate (InsP3) by 40%, 300%, and 800%, respectively. In contrast, cyclic AMP concentrations were unaffected. Bombesin stimulation of [3H]InsP3 formation was detected at 2 s, before the secretory response, which was not measurable until 5 s. Furthermore, the potency of bombesin to stimulate [3H]InsP3 generation (ED50 = 14 +/- 9 nM) agreed with its potency to stimulate insulin release (ED50 = 6 +/- 2 nM). Consistent with its effects on [3H]InsP3 formation, bombesin raised the intracellular free Ca2+ concentration [(Ca2+]i) from a basal value of 0.28 +/- 0.01 microM to a peak of 1.3 +/- 0.1 microM by 20 s. Chelation of extracellular Ca2+ did not abolish either the secretory response to bombesin or the rise in [Ca2+]i, showing that Ca2+ influx was not required. Although the Ca2+ ionophore ionomycin (100 nM) mimicked the [Ca2+]i response to bombesin, it did not stimulate secretion. However, pretreating cells with ionomycin decreased the effects of bombesin on both [Ca2+]i and insulin release, suggesting that elevation of [Ca2+]i was instrumental in the secretory response to this peptide. To determine the role of the DAG produced upon bombesin stimulation, we examined the effects of another activator of protein kinase C, the phorbol ester 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol 13-acetate (TPA). TPA did not affect [Ca2+]i, but it increased insulin secretion after a 2 min lag. However, an immediate increase in secretion was observed when ionomycin was added simultaneously with TPA. These data indicate that the initial secretory burst induced by bombesin results from the synergistic action of the high [Ca2+]i produced by InsP3 and DAG-activated protein kinase C. However, activation of protein kinase C alone appears to be sufficient for a sustained secretory response.

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