Bryostatins are macrocyclic lactones isolated from the marine bryozoan Bugula neritina. They are currently evaluated for putative antineoplastic activity. Bryostatins bind and activate protein kinase C (PK-C), the cellular receptor for the phorbol esters, and elicit PK-C-dependent cellular functions. Such functions include the expression of the interleukin-2 receptor (IL-2R). Northern blot hybridization with a human IL-2R and an IL-2 cDNA showed that bryostatin 1 (bryo 1), like the phorbol ester, PMA, activates the IL-2R gene. Activation with bryo 1 or PMA in the presence of a calcium ionophore, A23187, increased IL-2 message. These findings indicate that calcium mobilization is necessary for bryo 1 or PMA induced IL-2 gene expression. Unlike PMA, bryo 1 did not cause a vigorous proliferative response of T-lymphocytes unless A23187 was added to the cultures. A bryostatin congener, bryo 13, was inactive in the above assays. Short-term treatment of T-cells with bryo 1 and PMA resulted in an equivalent down-regulation of surface CD3 and CD4 receptors withour affecting the CD8 receptor. Bryo 1 or PMA mediated expression of surface IL-2R and T-cell proliferation induced by bryo 1 or PMA were sensitive to inhibition by the PK-C antagonists staurosporine (Sts) and H-7. In contrast, CD4 and CD3 down regulation were resistant to H-7, but could be blocked by Sts, although the Sts concentration required to block bryo 1 or PMA-induced down-modulation was 2.5-fold higher than required to inhibit IL-2R expression and T-cell proliferation. These results indicate that bryostatins activate T-cells through PK-C.
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