A BAL17 B lymphoma cell line bearing mu and delta chains on its surface behaves in a similar manner to normal mature B cells in terms of initial biochemical transmembrane signalling [Mizuguchi, Beaven, Ohara & Paul (1986) J. Immunol. 137, 2162-2167; Mizuguchi, Yong-Yong, Nakabayashi, Huang, Beaven, Chused & Paul (1987) J. Immunol. 139, 1054-1059]. Therefore the effects of protease inhibitors on increases in inositol phospholipid metabolism and intracellular free calcium concentration ([Ca2+]i) were examined. We show that the serine protease inhibitors Tos-Phe-CH2Cl (1-chloro-4-phenyl-3-L-tosylamidobutan-2-one-, TPCK) and Tos-Lys-CH2Cl (7-amino-1-chloro-3-L-tosylamidoheptan-2-one; TLCK) inhibit anti-IgM-mediated accumulation of inositol phosphates in a dose-dependent manner. InsP3 production induced by anti-IgM is also inhibited by pretreatment with Tos-Lys-CH2Cl or Tos-Phe-CH2Cl. Tos-Lys-CH2Cl- Tos-Phe-CH2Cl-mediated inhibition is not overcome by high concentrations of anti-IgM. Moreover, anti-IgM-mediated increases in [Ca2+]i are inhibited by pretreatment of the cells with these inhibitors. However, increases in inositol phospholipid metabolism caused by NaF, an activator of guanine-nucleotide-binding proteins (G-proteins), are approx. 10-fold more resistant to Tos-Lys-CH2Cl and Tos-Phe-CH2Cl inhibition compared with anti-IgM-induced changes. Furthermore, NaF-induced increases in [Ca2+]i are not inhibited by Tos-Lys-CH2Cl or Tos-Phe-CH2Cl pretreatment, suggesting that the inhibitors act at a step proximal to phospholipase C activation. The Tos-Lys-CH2Cl or Tos-Phe-CH2Cl treatment does not change the membrane IgM density as measured by flow cytometry, indicating that the active site of the inhibitors is distal to the membrane IgM molecule. These results indicate that serine proteases may be involved in coupling the receptor cross-linkage to G-protein.

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