Conditions influencing Ig secretion by plasma cells have been studied with suspensions of murine plasma cells and myeloma cells by determining the release of (3)H-Ig after a pulse of biosynthetic labeling with L- [4,5-(3)H]-leucine. Ig secretion is insensitive to a variety of hormones, mediators, cyclic nucleotide derivatives, extracellular calcium depletion, and agents acting on mierotubules or microfilaments; i.e., to a number of factors which are involved in the regulation of secretion by cells with a storage compartment. On the other hand, Ig secretion is markedly inhibited by conditions which (a) lower intracellular calcium levels (ionophore A 23187 in Ca(++)-free medium), (b) induce partial sodium/potassium equilibration (the ionophores monensin and nigericin and, in the case of myeloma cells, ouabain and incubation in K(+)-free medium) or (c) uncouple oxidative phosphorylation. The first two situations are accompanied by striking alterations of the ultrastructural appearance of the Golgi complex, different in each case. These ultrastructural observations, together with autoradiographic experiments after a short pulse with L-[4,5-(3)H]-leucine, have led to the following hypothesis: (a) under Ca(++) depletion (3)H-Ig passes to Golgi vesicles but these vesicles are incapable of fusion or migration and therefore accumulate in exaggerated numbers in the Golgi area; (b) under partial Na(+)/K(+) equilibration, (3)H-Ig passes to Golgi vesicles which have an exaggerated tendency to fuse with other Golgi elements, thereby generating large vacuoles which store increasing amounts of Ig; (c) under energy block, multiple membrane fission and fusion events are inhibited and there is therefore, little intracellular transport of (3)H-Ig or alteration of cell ultrastructure.

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