Phagocyte NADPH oxidase, dormant in resting cells, is activated upon cell stimulation to produce superoxide anion, a precursor of microbicidal oxidants. Active NADPH oxidase is found on the membrane as an enzyme complex, composed of membrane-integrated cytochrome b558 (gp91phox and p22phox subunits) and two cytosolic factors (p47phox and p67phox), each of the latter containing two src homology 3 (SH3) domains. Recently, we radioactively identified a third cytosolic factor, p40phox, as a molecule that associates with p67phox in human neutrophils. Although it has been found that this p40phox protein is defective in patients with chronic granulomatous disease (CGD) who lack p67phox, evidence to functionally relate it to the NADPH oxidase system has hitherto been lacking. In this study, we raised separate antibodies against both the COOH- and NH2-terminal polypeptides of p40phox as well as against the COOH-terminal polypeptide of p67phox to examine the mode of interaction between p40phox and p67phox in a complex. The antibody against the COOH terminus of p67phox was able to communoprecipitate p40phox in conjunction with p67phox itself as was expected. Very interestingly, however, the antibody against the COOH terminus of p40phox completely dissociated the p67phox molecule from the p40phox-p67phox complex unit without any detectable coimmunoprecipitation of p67phox, despite their tight association, whereas that against the NH2 terminus of p40phox had absolutely no dissociation effect. Similar results were found regarding their effects on the O2-generating ability of cytosol in a cell-free activation system, i.e., inhibition was noted with the COOH terminus antibody but not with that for the NH2 terminus of p40phox. However, this dissociation did not affect the translocation of the cytosolic components including p47phox to the membrane. Once the NADPH oxidase was activated, the antibody for the COOH terminus did not show any inhibitory effect on catalysis by the activated enzyme. The stimulators of NADPH oxidase, MA and SDS, did not dissociate the p40phox-p67phox complex. These results provide the first demonstration that p40phox is practically involved in the activation of NADPH oxidase through the association of its COOH-terminal, but not its NH2-terminal, with p67phox.

This content is only available as a PDF.