Activation of the PDGF receptor on human arterial smooth muscle cells (SMC) induces migration and proliferation via separable signal transduction pathways. Sphingosine-1-phosphate (Sph-1-P) can be formed following PDGF receptor activation and therefore may be implicated in PDGF-receptor signal transduction. Here we show that Sph-1-P does not significantly affect PDGF-induced DNA synthesis, proliferation, or activation of mitogenic signal transduction pathways, such as the mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase cascade and PI 3-kinase, in human arterial SMC. On the other hand, Sph-1-P strongly mimics PDGF receptor-induced chemotactic signal transduction favoring actin filament disassembly. Although Sph-1-P mimics PDGF, exogenously added Sph-1-P induces more prolonged and quantitatively greater PIP2 hydrolysis compared to PDGF-BB, a markedly stronger calcium mobilization and a subsequent increase in cyclic AMP levels and activation of cAMP-dependent protein kinase. This excessive and prolonged signaling favors actin filament disassembly by Sph-1-P, and results in inhibition of actin nucleation, actin filament assembly and formation of focal adhesion sites. Sph-1-P-induced interference with the dynamics of PDGF-stimulated actin filament disassembly and assembly results in a marked inhibition of cell spreading, of extension of the leading lamellae toward PDGF, and of chemotaxis toward PDGF. The results suggest that spatial and temporal changes in phosphatidylinositol turnover, calcium mobilization and actin filament disassembly may be critical to PDGF-induced chemotaxis and suggest a possible role for endogenous Sph-1-P in the regulation of PDGF receptor chemotactic signal transduction.

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