The role of hormone receptor lateral mobility in signal transduction was studied using a cellular system in which the receptor mobile fraction could be reversibly modulated to largely varying extents. The G-protein-coupled vasopressin V2-type receptor was labeled in LLC-PK1 renal epithelial cells using a fluorescent analogue of vasopressin, and receptor lateral mobility measured using fluorescence microphotolysis (fluorescence photobleaching recovery). The receptor mobile fraction (f) was approximately 0.9 at 37 degrees C and less than 0.1 at 10 degrees C, in accordance with previous studies. When cells were incubated for 1 h at 4 degrees C without hormone, and then warmed up to 37 degrees C and labeled with the vasopressin analogue, f increased from approximately 0.4 to 0.8 over approximately 1 h. The apparent lateral diffusion coefficient was not markedly affected by temperature pretreatment. Studies with radiolabeled vasopressin indicated that temperature pretreatment influenced neither receptor number nor binding/internalization kinetics. F-actin staining revealed that temperature change resulted in reversible changes of cytoskeletal structure. The maximal rate of in vivo cAMP production at 37 degrees C in response to vasopressin, but not to forskolin (receptor-independent agonist), was also markedly influenced by preincubation of cells at 4 degrees C, thus paralleling the effects of temperature preincubation on f. A linear correlation between f and maximal cAMP production was observed, suggesting that the receptor mobile fraction is a key parameter in hormone signal transduction in vivo. We conclude that mobile receptors are required to activate G-proteins, and discuss the implications of this for signal transduction mechanisms.

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