Epidermal growth factor (EGF) enhances vasopressin- and ionophore-A23187-induced prostaglandin production and arachidonate release by rat glomerular mesangial cells in culture. The purpose of the present study was to delineate the phospholipid pathways involved in this effect. In cells labelled with [14C]arachidonate, EGF significantly enhanced the free arachidonate released in response to A23187 or vasopressin without enhancing the production of [14C]arachidonate-labelled diacylglycerol. EGF increased the [14C]arachidonate-labelled phosphatidic acid formed in response to vasopressin, but to a much smaller extent than it increased free arachidonate release. These results indicate that activation of phospholipase C is not sufficient to explain the increase in free arachidonate release observed on addition of EGF. To examine if EGF enhanced phospholipase A2 activity, mesangial cells were labelled with [2-2H]glycerol and [14C]-arachidonate, and the formation of arachidonate-poor lysophospholipids was studied. When combined with vasopressin, EGF significantly enhanced the formation of arachidonate-poor lysophospholipids as compared with vasopressin alone. The fate of exogenously added lysophosphatidylcholine was not altered after stimulation with vasopressin plus EGF, indicating that decreased deacylation or reacylation of the lysophospholipids was not responsible for their accumulation. Taken together, these results indicate that EGF enhances free arachidonate release by activation of phospholipase A2. The signalling mechanism responsible for the change in phospholipase A2 activity is not known, but could conceivably involve phosphorylation of modulating proteins such as lipocortin or G-proteins.

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