Multivalent antigen that is capable of binding to and crosslinking the IgE receptors on rat basophilic leukemia (RBL) cells, induces a rapid and sustained rise in the content of filamentous actin. This reorganization of the actin may be responsible for changes in cellular morphology during the degranulation process. The antigen-stimulated polymerization of actin can be blocked in a dose-dependent manner by protein kinase inhibitors which also block degranulation. Conversely, reagents such as PMA, 1,2-dioctanoyl-sn-glycerol (diC8), and 1-oleoyl-2-acetyl-glycerol (OAG) which stimulate protein kinase C (PKC) also activate the rise in F-actin, although they have no effect on degranulation by themselves. The actin response which can be stimulated by the PKC activators can also be blocked by protein kinase inhibitors indicating that the PMA- and OAG-induced response is probably through activation of a protein kinase. Depletion of PKC activity through long term (20 h) exposure of RBL cells to PMA, also inhibited the F-actin response when the cells were stimulated with either multivalent antigen or OAG. External Ca++, which is an absolute requirement for degranulation, is not necessary for the rise in F-actin, but may modulate the response. Furthermore, ionomycin, which induces a large Ca++ influx, does not stimulate the F-actin increase even at doses that cause degranulation. These results suggest that activation of a protein kinase, such as PKC, may be responsible for signaling the polymerization of actin in RBL cells and that a rise in intracellular Ca++ is neither necessary nor sufficient for this response.

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