An increased turnover of phosphatidate and phosphatidyl inositol has been found in many tissues where hormones or neurotransmitters are postulated to raise Ca2+ influx1, for example in smooth muscle2–4. However, the relationship between changes in phospholipid metabolism and changes in Ca2+ permeability was unknown. Following recent reports on the interactions of Ca2+ with phosphatidic acid in membranes and artificial systems, we investigated the hypothesis that phosphatidate accumulation mediates the action of cholinergic and other stimuli on Ca2+ influx. We report here that synthesis and accumulation of phosphatidate was accelerated in smooth muscle cells stimulated by carbamylcholine with a similar time course to that of contraction. This alteration in phosphatidate metabolism does not seem to result from an increase in intracellular Ca2+ or depolarisation of the cell membrane. Furthermore, submicromolar concentrations of phosphatidate rapidly produce contractions of isolated smooth muscle cells. These results support the contention that cholinergic-induced changes in membrane Ca2+ permeability in smooth muscle could be mediated by phosphatidate accumulation.
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