Increasing evidence suggests that the nervous system is involved in allergic inflammation. One of the potential regulatory molecules of the neuroimmune system is nerve growth factor (NGF). Recent studies from our group demonstrated the presence of a functional NGF receptor (NGFR) on human B lymphocytes. Moreover, we showed that gp140trk tyrosine kinase, which serves as an NGFR, was involved in transduction of early signaling events in human B lymphocytes. The mechanisms by which NGF initiates the signaling cascade and the link between the neuroimmune systems are unknown. We have focused on the role of the cytoskeleton as a possible mediator for transduction of signals induced by NGF. Polymerized actin (F-actin) content was determined by fluorescent staining and immunoblotting with antiactin antibody. Addition of NGF caused a time- and concentration-dependent increase in F-actin content, and maximum effects were noted after 1 min. These increases in F-actin content and NGF-induced thymidine incorporation could be blocked by incubating the cells with cytochalasin D and botulinum C2 toxin before the addition of NGF. Incubation of human B lymphocytes with 10 nM K252a, an inhibitor of Trk kinase, decreased NGF-induced microfilament assembly by 75%. In immunoprecipitation experiments, addition of NGF to B cells induced a rapid increase in the tyrosine phosphorylation of paxillin, one of a group of focal adhesion proteins involved in linking actin filaments to the plasma membrane. Coimmunoprecipitation studies demonstrated the association between gp140trk kinase and paxillin. Together, these observations suggest that actin assembly is involved in NGF signaling in human B cells, and that paxillin may be essential in this pathway after phosphorylation by gp140trk kinase.

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