Cross-linking of surface immunoglobulin (Ig) receptors on human B cells leads to the activation of a tyrosine kinase. The activated tyrosine kinase subsequently phosphorylates a number of substrates, including phospholipase C-gamma. This enzyme breaks down phosphoinositol bisphosphate to form two intracellular messengers, diacylglycerol and inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate, leading to the activation of protein kinase C and the release of intracellular Ca2+ respectively. We have used h.p.l.c. and flow cytometry to measure accurately the inositol phosphate turnover and Ca2+ release in anti-Ig-stimulated human B cells. In particular, we have examined the effect of dose of the cross-linking antibody on the two responses. The identity of putative messenger inositol phosphates has been verified by structural analysis, and the amounts of both inositol phosphates and Ca2+ present have been quantified. In the Ramos Burkitt lymphoma, which is very sensitive to stimulus through its Ig receptors, both inositol phosphate production and Ca2+ release were found to be related to the dose of anti-Ig antibody applied. This suggests that phospholipase C-mediated signal transduction in human B cells converts the degree of cross-linking of the immunoglobulin receptor quantitatively into intracellular signals.

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