Histone H2A (1–10 µg/ml) added to Ehrlich ascite cell suspensions promoted: (i) Ca2+ influx, but no apparent intracellular Ca2+ mobilization; (ii) plasma-membrane depolarization and Na+ influx in Ca2+-free medium, which were recovered by Ca2+ readmission; (iii) influx of other cations such as Ba2+, Mn2+, choline+ and N-methyl-d-glucamine+, but not of propidium+, ethidium bromide and Trypan Blue. H2A-induced Ca2+ influx and cell depolarization were: (i) blocked by La3+ and Gd3+, but not by various inhibitors of receptor-activated Ca2+-influx pathways/channels; (ii) mimicked by various basic polypeptides, with Mr > 4000; (iii) prevented or reversed by polyanions such as polyglutamate or heparin; (iv) present in other cell types, such as Jurkat, PC12 and Friend erythroleukaemia cells, but virtually absent from rat hepatocytes and thymocytes. We conclude that cationic proteins/polypeptides, by interacting in a cell-specific manner with the cell surface, can activate in those cells putative non-selective Ca2+ channels and membrane depolarization.

This content is only available as a PDF.