We observed that phorbol myristate acetate (PMA) stimulates transcytosis of the polymeric immunoglobulin receptor (pIgR) in MDCK cells. Apical release of pre-endocytosed ligand (dimeric IgA) bound to the pIgR can be stimulated twofold within 7 min of addition of PMA while recycling of the ligand from the basal surface is not affected. In addition, apical surface delivery of pIgR and cleavage of its ectodomain to secretory component (SC) is also stimulated by PMA. The recycling of apically internalized ligand back to the apical surface is similarly stimulated. These results suggest that the stimulation of apical delivery is from an apical recycling compartment. The effect of PMA suggests that protein kinase C (PKC) is involved in the regulation of pIgR trafficking in MDCK cells. To test this we down regulated PKC activity by pre-treating cells with PMA for 16 h and observed that transcytosis could no longer be stimulated by PMA. Western blots show that the PKC isozymes alpha and to a lesser extent epsilon, are depleted from MDCK cells which have been pre-treated with PMA for 16 h and that treatment of MDCK cells with PMA for 5 min causes a dramatic translocation of the PKC alpha isozyme and a partial translocation of the epsilon isozyme from the cytosol to the membrane fraction of cell homogenates. This translocation suggests that the alpha and/or epsilon isozymes may be involved in PMA mediated stimulation of transcytosis. A mutant pIgR in which serines 664 and 726, the major sites of phosphorylation, are replaced by alanine is stimulated to transcytose by PMA, suggesting that phosphorylation of pIgR at these sites is not required for the effect of PMA. These results suggest that PMA-mediated stimulation of pIgR transcytosis may involve the activation of PKC alpha and/or epsilon, and that this stimulation occurs independently of the major phosphorylation sites on the pIgR. Finally, PMA stimulates transcytosis of basolaterally internalized transferrin, suggesting that PMA acts to generally stimulate delivery of endocytosed proteins to the apical surface.

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