Transmembrane Ca2+ influx is recognized as a universal second messenger that transduces T-cell activation signals to cytoplasm and nucleus, thereby stimulating transcription and cell division. To examine the role of endogenous factors that regulate mitogenic Ca2+ signalling of T-cells, we measured the concanavalin (Con) A-induced increase in cytoplasmic free calcium ([Ca2+]i) in spleen cells of BALB/c mice, using flow cytometry with an indicator dye, Indo-1 acetoxymethyl ester (Indo-1/AM). Con A is a polyclonal activator of T-cells. Unstimulated splenocytes had a [Ca2+]i of 100 nM. [Ca2+]i increased with Con A in a dose-dependent manner up to a concentration of 50 micrograms/ml. In the presence of 50 micrograms/ml Con A, [Ca2+]i was 350 nM. Natural polyamines (putrescine, spermidine and spermine) inhibited Con-A-induced Ca2+ influx in a dose-dependent manner. Putrescine was the most effective polyamine in desensitizing the Ca2+ signal, and decreased [Ca2+]i from 350 nM in the absence of putrescine to 250 nM in the presence of 100 microM putrescine. This effect was not mimicked by structurally related homologues or inorganic cations, suggesting a specific structural effect of the polyamine. H.p.l.c. analysis showed that polyamines were internalized during incubation of cells in vitro. In experiments using monoclonal anti-CD4 and anti-CD8 antibodies, we found a differential effect of putrescine on Ca2+ influx in CD4 and CD8 subpopulations of T cells. For CD4+ cells, [Ca2+]i decreased from 625 nM to 420 nM in the presence of 500 microM putrescine, whereas [Ca2+]i was not affected by putrescine in CD8+ cells. These data suggest that natural polyamines have cell-specific effects on mitogen-stimulated Ca(2+)-influx in T-cell subsets.
- © 1993 The Biochemical Society, London