Binding of ligand to the alpha subunit of Fc gamma RIIIA(CD16), expressed at the natural killer (NK) cell membrane in association with homo or heterodimers of proteins of the zeta family, results in phosphorylation of several proteins on tyrosine residues. We have analyzed the role of protein tyrosine phosphorylation in the regulation of molecular events induced upon stimulation of Fc gamma RIIIA in NK cells and in T cells expressing the Fc gamma RIII alpha chain in association with endogenous zeta 2 homodimers and devoid of other (CD3, CD2) transducing molecules. Our data indicate that treatment of these cells with protein tyrosine kinase inhibitors prevents not only Fc gamma RIIIA-induced protein tyrosine phosphorylation but also phosphatidylinositol 4,5 diphosphate hydrolysis and increased intracellular Ca2+ concentration, indicating a primary role of tyrosine kinase(s) in the induction of these early activation events. Occupancy of Fc gamma RIIIA by ligand results in phospholipase C (PLC)-gamma 1 tyrosine phosphorylation in NK cells and in Fc gamma RIIIA-transfected CD3-/CD2- T cells, and induces functional activation of p56lck in Fc gamma RIIIA alpha/zeta 2-transfected T cells, suggesting the possibility that the receptor-induced PLC-gamma 1 activation occurs upon phosphorylation of its tyrosine residues mediated by this kinase and is, at least in part, responsible for the signal transduction mediated via CD16 upon ligand binding.

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