Previous studies have reported an increased turnover of phospholipid in isolated islets of Langerhans in response to raised glucose concentrations. The present investigation was thus undertaken to determine the nature of any phospholipases that may be implicated in this phenomenon by employing various radiolabelled exogenous phospholipids. Hydrolysis of 1-acyl-2-[14C]arachidonoylglycerophosphoinositol by a sonicated preparation of islets optimally released radiolabelled lysophosphatidylinositol, arachidonic acid and 1,2-diacylglycerol at pH 5,7 and 9 respectively. This indicates the presence of a phospholipase A1 and a phospholipase C. However, the lack of any labelled lysophosphatidylinositol production when 2-acyl-1-[14C]stearoylglycerophosphoinositol was hydrolysed argues against a role for phospholipase A2 in the release of arachidonic acid. Phospholipase C activity as measured by phosphatidyl-myo-[3H]inositol hydrolysis was optimal around pH8, required Ca2+ for activity and was predominantly cytosolic in origin. The time course of phosphatidylinositol hydrolysis at pH 6 indicated a precursor-product relationship for 1,2-diacylglycerol and arachidonic acid respectively. The release of these two products when phosphatidylinositol was hydrolysed by either islet or acinar tissue was similar. However, phospholipase A1 activity was 20-fold higher in acinar tissue. Substrate specificity studies with islet tissue revealed that arachidonic acid release from phosphatidylethanolamine and phosphatidylcholine was only 8% and 2.5% respectively of that from phosphatidylinositol. Diacylglycerol lipase was also demonstrated in islet tissue being predominantly membrane bound and stimulated by Ca2+. The availability of non-esterified arachidonic acid in islet cells could be regulated by changes in the activity of a phosphatidylinositol-specific phospholipase C acting in concert with a diacylglycerol lipase.

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