During chemotaxis large eosinophils from newts exhibit a gradient of [Ca2+]i from rear to front. The direction of the gradient changes on relocation of the chemoattractant source, suggesting that the Ca2+ signal may trigger the cytoskeletal reorganization required for cell reorientation during chemotaxis. The initial stimulatory effect of chemoattractant on [Ca2+]i and the opposite orientations of the intracellular Ca2+ gradient and the external stimulus gradient suggest that more than one chemoattractant-sensitive messenger pathway may be responsible for the generation of spatially graded Ca2+ signals. To identify these messengers, Ca2+ changes were measured in single live cells stimulated with spatially uniform chemoattractant. On stimulation spatially averaged [Ca2+]i increased rapidly from < or = 100 nM to > or = 400 nM and was accompanied by formation of lamellipods. Subsequently cells flattened, polarized and crawled, and [Ca2+]i fluctuated around a mean value of approximately 200 nM. The initial Ca2+ spike was insensitive acutely to removal of extracellular Ca2+ but was abolished by treatments expected to deplete internal Ca2+ stores and by blocking receptors for inositol-trisphosphate, indicating that it is produced by discharge of internal stores, at least some of which are sensitive to InsP3. Activators of protein kinase C (PKC) (diacyl glycerol and phorbol ester) induced flattening and lamellipod activity and suppressed the Ca2+ spike, while cells injected with PKC inhibitors (an inhibitory peptide and low concentrations of heparin-like compounds) produced an enhanced Ca2+ spike on stimulation. Although cell flattening and lamellipod activity were induced by chemoattractant when the normal Ca2+ response was blocked, cells failed to polarize and crawl, indicating that Ca2+ homeostasis is required for these processes. We conclude that InsP3 acting on Ca2+ stores and DAG acting via PKC regulate chemoattractant-induced changes in [Ca2+]i, which in turn control polarization and locomotion. We propose that differences in the spatial distributions of InsP3 and DAG resulting from their respective hydrophilic and lipophilic properties may change Ca2+ distribution in response to stimulus reorientation, enabling the cell to follow the stimulus.

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