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We have used primary gonadotropes permeabilized with the pore-forming protein Staphylococcus aureus alpha-toxin to investigate luteinizing hormone (lutropin, LH) exocytosis. The diameter of the alpha-toxin pores (2-3 nm) allows the exchange of small molecules, whereas larger cytosolic proteins are retained. Because of the slow exchange of small molecules through the pores, we have developed a protocol which combines prolonged pre-equilibration of the permeabilized cells at 0 degrees C before stimulation with strong Ca2+ buffering. Under these conditions, increasing the free Ca2+ concentration from 0.1 microM to 10 microM [EC50 (concentration effecting half-maximal response) 2-3 microM] resulted in a 15-20-fold increase in LH exocytosis. LH exocytosis was maximal in the first 3 min and completed by 12 min. When permeabilized cells were equilibrated for prolonged periods in the absence of MgATP, Ca2(+)-stimulated LH secretion gradually declined (greater than 90% decrease by 60 min). Addition of MgATP (5 mM) rapidly restored full Ca2(+)-stimulated LH secretion. MgATP supported Ca2(+)-stimulated LH secretion at a half-maximal concentration of 1.5 mM. UTP and adenosine 5'-[gamma-thio]triphosphate were 40 and 31% as effective as MgATP, whereas other nucleotide triphosphates were ineffective. The protein kinase C (PKC) activator phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA; 50 nM) stimulated LH exocytosis at free Ca2+ concentrations as low as 1 nM and was additive with Ca2+ at higher free Ca2+ concentrations. PMA-stimulated exocytosis required MgATP at concentrations similar to those required for Ca2(+)-stimulated LH exocytosis. These results demonstrate that LH exocytosis can be triggered both by micromolar Ca2+ concentrations or, in the virtual absence of Ca2+, by PKC activation. Both mechanisms of stimulated exocytosis have an absolute requirement for millimolar ATP. Because they retain cytosolic proteins, alpha-toxin-permeabilized cells may have advantages over alternative permeabilization methods provided that conditions are used that compensate for slow diffusion through alpha-toxin pores.


Journal article


Biochem J

Publication Date





901 - 908


Adenosine Triphosphate, Animals, Bacterial Toxins, Calcium, Cell Membrane Permeability, Cells, Cultured, Egtazic Acid, Exocytosis, Hemolysin Proteins, Kinetics, Luteinizing Hormone, Male, Orchiectomy, Pituitary Gland, Anterior, Ribonucleotides, Sheep, Staphylococcus aureus, Tetradecanoylphorbol Acetate