We found that glucagon stimulated membrane protein kinase C (PKC) activity and phosphatidylcholine hydrolysis in 24 h-cultured rat hepatocytes. Phorbol myristate acetate, 8-bromo cyclic AMP, vasopressin, noradrenaline and the Ca2+ ionophore A23187 also stimulated membrane PKC activity. However, only vasopressin and noradrenaline stimulated inositol phosphate accumulation, whereas all agonists stimulated the rate of release of water-soluble choline metabolites into the medium. Choline, and to a much lesser extent phosphocholine, were released, suggesting predominantly phospholipase D activation. This was supported by the finding that the accumulation of phosphatidate and diacylglycerol was enhanced by the agents in [3H]myristate-labelled hepatocytes, as was [32P]phosphatidylethanol formation. Since the time courses for the release of choline into the medium and the accumulation of phosphatidate and diacylglycerol caused by vasopressin and glucagon were similar, the more rapid activation of PKC by vasopressin probably reflects diacylglycerol formation from phosphoinositide breakdown. The inability of glucagon to stimulate inositol phosphate production was not due to the prolonged culture, since similar results were obtained in 4 h cultures. We conclude that the stimulation of membrane PKC activity by glucagon correlates with accumulation of diacylglycerol and phosphatidate derived from the hydrolysis of phosphatidylcholine.

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