Cytosolic free calcium concentration, [Ca2+]i, and exocytosis of azurophil granules (beta-glucuronidase), specific granules (vitamin B12-binding protein), and secretory vesicles (gelatinase) were measured concomitantly in intact human neutrophils under steady state [Ca2+]i. The cells were loaded with the fluorescent calcium indicator quin2 in the presence or absence of extracellular Ca2+, and steady state [Ca2+]i levels ranging from 20 to greater than 2,000 nM were obtained by adding the Ca2+ ionophore ionomycin at various concentrations of extracellular calcium. The extent of exocytosis from the three granule populations was found to be a function of [Ca2+]i. The minimal [Ca2+]i that caused significant release (threshold [Ca2+]i) was approximately 200-300 nM and was similar for all three compartments. Marked differences, however, were found when the [Ca2+]i for half-maximal exocytosis (EC50) was determined. In the absence of cytochalasin B the EC50 was 1,100 +/- 220 nM and 1,600 +/- 510 nM for specific granules and secretory vesicles, respectively, and approximately 6,000 nM for azurophil granules. Cytochalasin B did not affect the threshold [Ca2+]i but decreased the EC50 and enhanced the rate of exocytosis. In the presence of cytochalasin B the EC50 was approximately 600 nM both for secretory vesicles and specific granules, and approximately 2,600 nM for azurophil granules. The addition of the chemotactic peptide N-formyl-methionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine dramatically changed the [Ca2+]i dependency of granule secretion: It decreased the threshold [Ca2+]i to less than 20 and less than 50 nM, and the EC50 to 50 and 200 nM for specific and azurophil granules, respectively, and it significantly increased the rate of exocytosis. Thus, the additional signal(s) provided by receptor activation markedly lower(s) the Ca2+ requirement of the exocytotic process. Furthermore, these results indicate that the secretion from three different granule populations within the same cell type are differently modulated by [Ca2+]i.

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