Interaction between protein kinase C-dependent and G protein-dependent pathways in the regulation of natural killer cell granule exocytosis

A. T. Ting, R. A. Schoon, R. T. Abraham, P. J. Leibson

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35 Scopus citations


The binding of natural killer (NK) cells to either susceptible tumor cells or antibody-coated targets results in rapid activation of phospholipase C (PLC) in NK cells. PLC activation generates inositol-1,4,5-trisphosphate and sn-1,2-diacylglycerol as second messengers, which, in turn, increase intracellular free calcium concentrations ([Ca2+](i)) and protein kinase C (PKC) activity, respectively. These proximal signals initiate a cascade of as yet undefined biochemical events, leading eventually to the exocytosis of preformed cytotoxic granules. To investigate the signal transduction pathways involved in granule exocytosis, we utilized streptolysin-O-permeabilized human NK cells as our experimental model. Our initial studies indicated that the separate activation of either PKC (using the phorbol ester, PMA) or G protein-dependent pathways (using guanosine-5'-O-(3-thiotriphosphate) (GTPγS)) stimulated granule exocytosis in a time-, concentration-, and Ca2+-dependent manner. PMA-stimulated exocytosis was inhibited by staurosporine or a PKC pseudosubstrate antagonist peptide, but was not affected by GDP. In contrast, GTPγS-stimulated exocytosis was effectively inhibited by GDP, but not by staurosporine or the PKC pseudosubstrate antagonist. These observations suggest that NK cell exocytosis can be stimulated by at least two separate pathways; one involving PKC and the other involving a G protein. However, co-stimulation with PMA and GTPγS synergistically enhanced exocytosis, suggesting that even though the two exocytotic pathways were biochemically distinct, cross-talk between the two pathways may potently influence the exocytotic process. These results define a regulatory role for PKC- and G protein-dependent pathways during granule exocytosis from NK cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23957-23962
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number33
StatePublished - 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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