Human peripheral blood leukocytes (PMN) are induced to release lysosomal enzymes by the calcium ionophore A23187 in the presence but not the absence of extracellular Ca++. Whereas secretion induced by particulate or immune stimuli is accompanied by an increase in visible microtubules and is inhibitable by colchicine, secretion induced by A23187 and Ca++ was not accompanied by an increase in microtubule numbers and was not inhibited by colchicine. Ca++ did not appear to regulate microtubule assembly in these cells since resting PMN had a mean of 22.3 +/- 2.0 microtubules in the centriolar region as compared to 22.3 +/- 1.1 in ionophore-treated cells and 24.9 +/- 1.5 in cells exposed to ionophore and 1 mM Ca++. Bipolar filaments, 10 nm thick and 300--400 nm long, were numerous in the pericortical cytoplasm of cells exposed to both reagents. Microtubules in these cells were decorated with an electron-opaque fibrillar material. PMN exposed to A23187 and Ca++ were contracted in two directions at right angles to each other: (a) Contractions parallel to the plasma membrane resulted in extensive plication of the cell membrane. The cytoplasm subjacent to the plicae contained dense filamentous webs. Plication was prevented by cytochalasin B or reversed by subsequent exposure to an endocytic stimulus such as zymosan. (b) Contractions perpendicular to the plasma membrane, toward the cytocenter, resulted in the formation of vacuoles in normal PMN and of membrane invaginations in cytochalasin B-treated PMN. Whereas contractions parallel to the plasma membrane could occur in the absence of enzyme release (ionophore alone) and enzyme release could occur in the absence of such contractions (ionophore plus calcium plus cytochalasin B), contraction toward the cytocenter occurred in all experimental conditions in which significant enzyme release was obtained. Thus, lysosomal enzyme secretion in PMN involves contractile movements in the plasma membrane toward the lysosomes rather than the reverse. These calcium-mediated contractile events are mediated by cytochalasin B-insensitive microfilaments but not by microtubule assembly.

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