A broad range of membrane functions, including endocytosis and exocytosis, are strongly inhibited during mitosis. The underlying mechanisms are unclear, however, but will probably be important in relation to the mitotic cycle and the regulation of surface phenomena generally. A major unanswered question is whether membrane signal transduction is altered during mitosis; suppression of an intracellular calcium [( Ca2+]i) transient could inhibit exocytosis; [Ca2+]i elevation could disassemble the mitotic spindle. Activation of the histamine H1 receptor interphase in HeLa cells is shown here by Indo-1 fluorescence to produce a transient elevation of [Ca2+]i. The [Ca2+]i transient consists of an initial sharp rise that is at least partially dependent on intracellular calcium followed by an elevated plateau that is absolutely dependent on extracellular calcium. The [Ca2+]i transient is completely suppressed by preincubation with the tumor promoter, phorbol myristate acetate, but is unaffected by preincubation with pertussis toxin (islet-activating protein). In mitotic (metaphase-arrested) HeLa cells, the [Ca2+]i transient is largely limited to the initial peak. Measurement of 45Ca2+ uptake shows that it is stimulated by histamine in interphase cells, but not in mitotics. We conclude that the histamine-stimulated generation of the second messenger, [Ca2+]i, in mitotic cells is limited by failure to activate a sustained calcium influx. The initial phase of calcium mobilization from intracellular stores is comparable to that in interphase cells. Hormone signal transduction thus appears to be altered during mitosis.

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