A method for the rapid and quantitative separation of glycerophosphocholine, choline phosphate and choline upon ion-exchange columns is described. The method has been utilized to examine the stimulation of phosphatidylcholine breakdown in quiescent Swiss 3T3 cells in response to bombesin and 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol 13-acetate (TPA). The stimulated generation of choline is shown to precede that of choline phosphate, with no effect upon glycerophosphocholine levels; but was attenuated in cells in which protein kinase C activity was down-regulated. The results thus suggest that stimulation of the cells with either bombesin or TPA activates phospholipase D-catalysed phosphatidylcholine breakdown by a common mechanism involving the activation of protein kinase C.

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