We have recently described an alpha 2-macroglobulin (alpha 2M) signalling receptor which is distinct from the low-density lipoprotein-related protein/alpha 2M receptor (LRP/alpha 2MR). Ligation of the macrophage signalling receptor by alpha 2M-methylamine stimulates production of several second messengers and involves a pertussis toxin-insensitive G-protein. We now report that binding of alpha 2M-methylamine, or the cloned M(r) = 20,000 receptor-binding fragment from rat alpha 1M, to macrophage alpha 2M signalling receptors induces protein phosphorylation. By use of a monoclonal antibody to phospholipase C gamma l (PLC gamma l) we were able to identify it as one target for protein phosphorylation. Phosphorylation was time and concentration dependent, being optimal at about 60 s of incubation and a 100-200 nM ligand concentration. By use of a second monoclonal antibody directed against phosphotyrosine, we were able to demonstrate that at least a portion of the label was incorporated into one or more tyrosine residues. PLC gamma l phosphorylation was then studied in membrane preparations at 4 degrees C in order to minimize serine or threonine modification. Preincubation of macrophage membranes with genistein, a tyrosine kinase inhibitor, drastically reduced phosphorylation of PLC gamma l. Receptor-associated protein, which blocks alpha 2M binding to LRP/alpha 2MR but not to the alpha 2M signalling receptor, had no effect on alpha 2M-methylamine-induced tyrosine phosphorylation of PLC gamma l. Binding of lactoferrin to LRP/alpha 2MR failed to induce phosphorylation of PLC gamma l, further supporting the hypothesis that the alpha 2M signalling receptor and LRP/alpha 2MR are distinct entities. Growth factors which induce tyrosine phosphorylation typically cause a rise in cytosolic pH. Binding of a2M-methylamine to macrophages also gradually increased the intracellular pH in a concentration-dependent manner, being optimal at a 200 nM ligand concentration. The increase in pH was amiloride sensitive. We propose that receptor-recognized forms of a2M may function like growth factors with regard to macrophage regulation.

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