Human neutrophils and HL-60 leukaemic cells possess an NADPH oxidase which catalyses superoxide (O2-) formation and is activated by the chemotactic peptide, N-formyl-L-methionyl-L-leucyl-L-phenylalanine (fMet-Leu-Phe). In dibutyryl cyclic AMP-differentiated HL-60 cells, ATP and UTP in the presence of cytochalasin B activated O2- formation with EC50 values of 5 microM and efficacies amounting to 30% of that of fMet-Leu-Phe. The potency order of purine nucleotides in activating O2- generation was ATP = adenosine 5′-O-(3-thiotriphosphate) greater than ITP greater than dATP = ADP. Pyrimidine nucleotides activated NADPH oxidase in the potency order UTP greater than dUTP greater than CTP = TTP = UDP. Pertussis toxin completely prevented activation of NADPH oxidase by fMet-Leu-Phe and UTP, whereas the effect of ATP was only partially inhibited. ATP and UTP enhanced O2- generation induced by fMet-Leu-Phe by up to 8-fold, and primed the cells to respond to non-stimulatory concentrations of fMet-Leu-Phe. Activation of NADPH oxidase by UTP but not by ATP was inhibited by various activators of adenylate cyclase. In dimethyl sulphoxide-differentiated HL-60 cells and in human neutrophils, ATP and UTP per se did not activate NADPH oxidase, but they potentiated the effect of fMet-Leu-Phe. Our results suggest that purine and pyrimidine nucleotides act via purino- and novel pyrimidinoceptors respectively, which are coupled to guanine nucleotide-binding proteins leading to the activation of NADPH oxidase. As ATP and UTP are released from cells under physiological and pathological conditions, these nucleotides may play roles as intercellular signal molecules in the activation of O2- formation.

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