The extrusion of protons is considered a very general parameter of the activation of many kinds of membrane or intracellular molecules, such as receptors, ion channels, and enzymes. We found that pepstatin A caused a reproducible, concentration-related increase in the extracellular acidification rate in two microglial cell lines, Ra2 and 6-3. Washing abolished pepstatin A-induced acidification immediately. However, pepstatin A did not cause the extracellular acidification in other cell types, such as CHO, C6 glioma, and NIH3T3 cells. These observations strongly suggest that pepstatin A interacts with certain membrane proteins specific to both Ra2 and 6-3 cells from outside. N-methylmaleimide and N-dicyclohexylcarbodiimide, N,N′-dicyclohexylcarbodiimide, inhibitors of H+-ATPase, were found to reduce pepstatin A-induced response strongly, while bafilomycin A1, a vacuolar H+-ATPase inhibitor, vanadate, a P-type H+-ATPase inhibitor, and NaN3, an F1 ATPase inhibitor, virtually did not. 5-(N-ethyl-N-isopropyl) amiloride, an inhibitor of Na+/H+ exchanger isoform 1, greatly enhanced pepstatin-induced response, while amiloride did not. Zn2+, a voltage-dependent proton channel blocker, did not affect pepstatin-induced response neither. Staurosporine, a nonspecific inhibitor of protein kinase C, inhibited pepstatin A-induced response, while chelerythrine, more selective inhibitor of protein kinase C, greatly enhanced it. H-7 and H-8 did not affected the response. These findings suggest that pepstatin A induces extracellular acidification in microglia cell lines, Ra2 and 6-3, through an N-methylmaleimide- and N,N′-dicyclohexylcarbodiimide-sensitive, but bafilomycin A1-insensitive, ATPase, which seems to be distinct from protein kinase C-dependent process.
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