The cholinergic agonist carbachol induced the release of arachidonic acid in the 1321N1 astrocytoma cell line, and this was blocked by atropine, suggesting the involvement of muscarinic receptors. To assess the mechanisms of signalling involved in the response to carbachol, a set of compounds characterized by eliciting responses through different mechanisms was tested. A combination of 4β-phorbol 12β-myristate 13α-acetate and thapsigargin, an inhibitor of endomembrane Ca2+-ATPase that induces a prolonged elevation of cytosolic Ca2+ concentration, induced an optimal response, suggesting at first glance that both protein kinase C (PKC) and Ca2+ mobilization were involved in the response. This was consistent with the observation that carbachol elicited Ca2+ mobilization and PKC-dependent phosphorylation of cytosolic phospholipase A2 (cPLA2; phosphatide sn-2-acylhydrolase, EC as measured by a decrease in electrophoretic mobility. Nevertheless, the release of arachidonate induced by carbachol was unaltered in media containing decreased concentrations of Ca2+ or in the presence of neomycin, a potent inhibitor of phospholipase C which blocks phosphoinositide turnover and Ca2+ mobilization. Guanosine 5´-[γ-thio]triphosphate added to the cell-free homogenate induced both [3H]arachidonate release and cPLA2 translocation to the cell membrane fraction in the absence of Ca2+, thus suggesting the existence of an alternative mechanism of cPLA2 translocation dependent on G-proteins and independent of Ca2+ mobilization. From the combination of experiments utilizing biochemical and immunological tools the involvement of cPLA2 was ascertained. In summary, these data indicate the existence in the astrocytoma cell line 1321N1 of a pathway involving the cPLA2 which couples the release of arachidonate to the occupancy of receptors for a neurotransmitter, requires PKC activity and G-proteins and might operate in the absence of Ca2+ mobilization.

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