The metabolism of AA-containing phosphoglycerides within T cell membranes leads to the generation of second messengers that appear to play a crucial role in transmembrane signal transduction. To test the hypothesis that aberrations in the movement of arachidonoyl-phospholipids are associated with and may potentially contribute to abnormal T cell function, the incorporation, distribution, and turnover of AA within the membrane glycerolipids of cells that are known to exhibit immunoregulatory disturbances was examined. Thy-1+, Ly-1+, L3T4-, Lyt-2-, B220+ T cells from autoimmune MRL-lpr/lpr mice were used as the cellular model. In contrast to control lymph node T cells, which preferentially incorporate labeled AA into phosphatidylcholine (PC), B220+ T cells displayed a predilection for distributing [3H]arachidonate into phosphatidylinositol (PI). The arachidonoyl-phospholipid pools were normal in B220+ T cells. The constitutive turnover of [3H]arachidonoyl-PI was significantly enhanced and that of [3H]arachidonate-PC substantially reduced in B220+ T cell compared with control cells. Using membrane homogenates B220+ T cells demonstrated a functional increase in the levels of lyso-PI. Intact B220+ T cells prelabeled with [3H]myoinositol and cultured in the absence of stimulation with exogenous antigens or mitogens, exhibited increased production of lyso-PI. The data indicate that the preferential formation of [3H]arachidonoyl-PI in B220+ T cells is the result of greatly increased, constitutive PI turnover that appears to be due to a membrane phospholipase A2 activity. It remains possible that disturbances in the movement of arachidonate within phospholipids of B220+ T cells play a role in the expression of aberrant immunological activity.

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