Ultrastructural and functional studies of degranulation responses by human neutrophils have suggested that microtubules (MTs) have a role in the intracellular transport of neutrophil granules. We have found that granule-MT complexes can be isolated from disrupted taxol-treated (1.0 microM) neutrophils, visualized by electron microscopy, and quantified in terms of granules per MT length. After incubation of neutrophils with the chemotactic peptide N-formyl-methionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine (fMLP), granule-MT complex formation was found to be increased two- to threefold. Enhanced binding of granules to MTs was detectable within 30 s of fMLP stimulation and was dependent on the concentration of fMLP. Incubation of cells with dibutyryl cAMP inhibited this fMLP-stimulated granule-MT complex formation in a dose-responsive fashion. These granule-MT interactions could be reproduced in a cell-free system with neutrophil granules isolated by density gradient centrifugation and MTs polymerized from phosphocellulose-purified tubulin. Furthermore, reconstituted granule-MT interactions were found to be modulated by ATPase inhibitors. Sodium orthovanadate increased granule-MT interactions in a concentration-dependent manner, while AMP-PNP, a nonhydrolyzable ATP analogue, and N-ethylmaleimide decreased or eliminated these interactions. In addition, we found that a MT-activated ATPase could be recovered from intact neutrophil granules by salt extraction, and that extracts enriched in this ATPase contained a polypeptide of between 115 and 120 kD which binds ATP and is immunologically related to kinesin. These studies demonstrate that cytoplasmic granules interact with MTs in human neutrophils in a regulated stimulus-responsive manner, and they suggest that such interactions may involve an MT-based, ATPase-dependent, vesicle translocation system as has been demonstrated in other types of cells.

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