The signalling mechanisms responsible for the hydrolysis of sphingomyelin mediated by 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 [1,25(OH)2D3] and interferon γ (IFN-γ) in HL-60 cells were investigated. IFN-γ was found to increase selectively the activity of cytosolic, Mg2+-independent, neutral sphingomyelinase. The treatment of HL-60 cells with the combination of 1,25(OH)2D3 and IFN-γ had an additive effect on sphingomyelin hydrolysis, ceramide release and the activity of cytosolic, Mg2+-independent, neutral sphingomyelinase. The pretreatment of HL-60 cells with staurosporine, chelerythrine chloride and bisindolylmaleimide abolished the activity of sphingomyelinase in response to 1,25(OH)2D3 and IFN-γ. Calphostin C, which acts on the regulatory site of protein kinase C (PKC), and Gö 6976, a selective inhibitor of Ca2+-dependent PKC isoforms, inhibited the effect of 1,25(OH)2D3 but had no effect on the IFN-γ-mediated increase in activity of sphingomyelinase. Isoform-specific antibodies were used to deplete different PKC isoforms from cytosol before the treatment of the cytosolic fraction with 1,25(OH)2D3, arachidonic acid (AA) and PMA. The depletion of PKC isoforms β1, β2, ϵ, η, μ, ζ and λ had no effect on the activation of sphingomyelinase induced by 1,25(OH)2D3 or by AA. The depletion of PKC α from the cytosol completely abolished the effect of 1,25(OH)2D3 on sphingomyelinase activity but had no effect on the AA-induced activity of sphingomyelinase. PMA had no effect on the activity of sphingomyelinase in either untreated or α-depleted cytosol but significantly increased the activity of sphingomyelinase when added to cytosol depleted of PKC ∆. Moreover, PMA inhibited the effect of 1,25(OH)2D3 on sphingomyelinase activation but the inhibitory effect was abolished by prior depletion of PKC ∆ from the cytosol. These studies demonstrate that 1,25(OH)2D3-induced activation of sphingomyelinase is mediated by PKC α. Furthermore, PKC ∆ had an inhibitory effect on sphingomyelinase, suggesting that the difference between the 1,25(OH)2D3- and PMA-mediated effects on sphingomyelin turnover depends on the specific regulation of the PKC α and PKC ∆ isoforms.

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