Although exogenous phosphatidic acid (PA) has been shown to promote insulin release, the effects of endogenous PA on endocrine function are largely unexplored. In order to generate PA in situ, intact adult-rat islets were treated with exogenous phospholipases of the D type (PLD), and their effects on phospholipid metabolism and on insulin release were studied in parallel. Chromatographically purified PLD from Streptomyces chromofuscus stimulated the accumulation of PA in [14C]arachidonate- or [14C]myristate-prelabelled islets, and also promoted insulin secretion over an identical concentration range. During 30 min incubations, insulin release correlated closely with the accumulation of [14C]arachidonate-labelled PA (r2 = 0.98; P less than 0.01) or [14C]myristate-labelled PA (r2 = 0.97; P less than 0.01). Similar effects were seen both in freshly isolated and in overnight-cultured intact islets. In contrast, PLDs (from cabbage or peanut) which do not support phospholipid hydrolysis at the pH of the extracellular medium also did not promote insulin release. The effects on secretion of the active PLD preparation were inhibited by modest cooling (to 30 degrees C); dantrolene or Co2+ also inhibited PLD-induced secretion without decreasing PLD-induced PA formation. Additionally, the removal of PLD left the subsequent islet responsiveness to glucose intact, further supporting an exocytotic non-toxic mechanism. PLD-induced insulin release did not appear to require influx of extracellular Ca2+, nor could the activation of protein kinase C clearly be implicated. During incubations of 30 min, PLD selectively generated PA; however, more prolonged incubations (60 min) also led to production of some diacyglycerol and free arachidonic acid concomitant with progressive insulin release. These data suggest that PLD activation has both rapid and direct effects (via PA) and more delayed, secondary, effects (via other effects of PA or the generation of other lipid signals). Taken in conjunction with our demonstration that pancreatic islets contain an endogenous PLD which generates PA [Dunlop & Metz (1989) Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 163, 922-928], these studies provide evidence suggesting that PLD activation (and possibly other pathways leading to PA formation) could play a role in stimulus-secretion coupling in pancreatic islets.

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