Lanthanum (La+++) is a well-known Ca++ antagonist in a number of biological systems. It was used in the present study to examine the role of Ca++ in the regulation of adenyl cyclase of the adrenal cortex by ACTH. In micromolar concentrations, .La+++ inhibited both cyclic AMP and corticosterone response of isolated adrenal cortex cells to ACTH. However, a number of intracellular processes were not affected by La+++. These include the stimulation of steroidogenesis by dibutyryl cyclic AMP, conversion of several steroid precursors into corticosterone, and stimulation of the latter by glucose. Thus, inhibition of steroidogenesis by La+++ appears to be solely due to an inhibition of ACTH-stimulated cyclic AMP formation. Electron microscope examination showed that La+++ was localized on plasma membrane of the cells and did not appear to penetrate beyond this region. Since La+++ is believed to replace Ca++ at superficial binding sites on the cell membrane, it is proposed that Ca++ at these sites plays an important role in the regulation of adenyl cyclase by ACTH. Similarities in the role of Ca++ in "excitation-contraction" coupling and in the ACTH-adenyl cyclase system raise the possibility that a contractile protein may be involved in the regulation of adenyl cyclase by those hormones which are known to require Ca++ in the process.

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