FcγRIIA-mediated phagocytosis involves a number of signaling proteins and lipids, which increasingly are viewed as localizing subcellularly in plasma membrane microdomains providing a framework for their interaction. COS-1 cells stably transfected with FcγRIIA were used as a model to demonstrate co-localization of several enzymes shown to be important in polymorphonuclear leukocyte (PMN) phagocytic signaling. Previously we developed a model wherein FcγRIIA engagement in PMNs resulted in activation of phospholipase D (PLD), producing phosphatidic acid, which is hydrolyzed to diglyceride, an activator of PKC. PKCδ and Raf-1 then activate the MAP kinase pathway and subsequently myosin to allow pseudopod formation. In COS-1 cells as in PMNs, PLD in the membrane fraction was activated during phagocytosis. COS-1 PLD was found almost exclusively in lipid rafts identified by the presence of caveolin, while two of its cofactors, RhoA and ARF1, were enriched in rafts. PKCδ and Raf-1 translocated to the plasma membrane, and were enriched in lipid rafts, reaching highest levels 5 to 10 min after phagocytosis was initiated. Rottlerin, a specific inhibitor of PKCδ, completely inhibited phagocytosis, suggesting that PKCδ regulates phagocytosis in COS-1 cells; however, translocation of PKCδ to rafts was not inhibited by rottlerin. Chelation of intracellular calcium with BAPTA-AM inhibited phagocytosis by only 25%, suggesting that PKCα or PKCβ, which both require calcium, were not important regulators of phagocytosis. A specific inhibitor of MEK (which is activated by Raf and activates MAP kinase), PD098059, inhibited phagocytosis by about 35%, suggesting that the MAP kinase pathway is involved in, but not the key factor required for, COS-1 cell phagocytosis. Extracellular signal-regulated kinase-2 (ERK2), a MAP kinase, was present in the raft fraction. In PMNs, phagocytosis and activation of MAP kinase are inhibited by exogenous ceramide, and endogenous ceramide levels increase during phagocytosis, indicating that FcγRIIA engagement initiates ceramide generation. Applying this model, we transfected COS-1 cells with FcγRIIA that had been mutated in the ITAM region (Y282F and Y298F), rendering them unable to ingest particles. When the mutant receptors were engaged, ceramide was generated and MAP kinase was activated normally, thus these processes did not require actual ingestion of particles. Previously we showed that ceramide 1-phosphate (C1P), the product of ceramide kinase (CERK), promotes membrane fusion in PMNs. Here we found that C1P increased in COS-1 cells during phagocytosis. CERK was found to be enriched in lipid rafts, translocating during phagocytosis. These results indicate that signaling proteins for phagocytosis are either constitutively present in, or are recruited to, lipid rafts where they are readily available to activate one another.

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