The presence and physiologic role of cyclic GMP-dependent protein kinase (G-kinase) in human neutrophils was investigated by Western blot analysis and immunocytochemistry. Small quantities of G-kinase were found in the cytoskeletal-enriched fraction of neutrophil lysates as detected by Western blots using a polyclonal antibody raised against bovine aorta G-kinase. Immunofluorescence microscopy demonstrated in adherent neutrophils that G-kinase was localized diffusely within the cytoplasm, at the microtubule organizing center, and in the euchromatin of the nucleus. Because cyclic GMP is implicated as a modulator of neutrophil chemotaxis, G-kinase localization was investigated in neutrophils activated with N-formyl-methionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine (fMLP). fMLP stimulated transient focal changes in G-kinase localization that coincided with transient changes in cell shape. G- kinase translocated over a period of 5 minutes from diffuse staining of the cytosol to filaments within the uropod of polarized cells (1 minute), to bundles of filaments associated with loss of cell polarity (2.5 minutes), and finally to more intense staining of the nuclear euchromatin (5 minutes). Optical sectioning of neutrophils by confocal laser scanning microscopy confirmed that G-kinase was restricted to specific sub-cellular compartments during cell activation. This transient localization of G-kinase was disrupted by cytoskeletal inhibitors and was augmented by 8-Br-cyclic GMP. These data provide evidence for the first time that G-kinase plays a physiologic role in human neutrophils, and support the concept of compartmentalization of cyclic nucleotides during neutrophil activation.

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