We have recently described a novel glycoprotein, Kp43, expressed on the surface of human natural killer (NK) cells that appears to regulate their functional activity. In this report, signaling mechanisms through the Kp43 surface antigen have been studied. Incubation of interleukin 2 (IL-2)-treated NK cells with anti-Kp43 monoclonal antibody F(ab')2 fragments resulted in the time- and dose-dependent stimulation of NK cell phospholipase D. Phospholipase D activation through the Kp43 surface antigen was found to take place in the absence of polyphosphoinositide turnover and appeared not to depend on the presence of Ca2+ in the extracellular medium. On the other hand, signaling mechanisms through the CD16 receptor (FcR-III) on NK cells were comparatively studied. Stimulation of IL-2-treated NK cells with anti-CD16 monoclonal antibody F(ab')2 fragment also resulted in time- and dose-dependent activation of phospholipase D. However, CD16-triggered phospholipase D activation took place concomitant to phospholipase C-mediated polyphosphoinositide breakdown and showed a strong dependence on extracellular Ca2+. These results provide, to our knowledge, the first evidence for the presence of activatable phospholipase D in NK cells, as well as the first indication that distinct receptor-modulated pathways exist for activation of phospholipase D within the same cell type. On the other hand, phosphatidic acid, the physiologic product of phospholipase D action on phospholipids, was found to mimic the effect of anti-Kp43 monoclonal antibody regarding tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) biosynthesis and secretion by NK cells. Addition of phosphatidic acid vesicles to IL-2-treated NK cell cultures stimulated a TNF-alpha production that was abolished when the cells were previously treated with actinomycin D. Other phospholipids, including lysophosphatidic acid, were ineffective. However, phosphatidic acid-induced TNF-alpha production was strongly inhibited by the presence of propranolol, an inhibitor of phosphatidic acid phosphohydrolase. Moreover, in cells responding to phorbol myristate acetate, a compound that triggers activation of phospholipase D, TNF-alpha synthesis was also inhibited by propranolol. Thus, these data suggest a second messenger role for phosphatidic acid-derived diradylglycerol in the induction of TNF-alpha gene expression.

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