The presence of binding sites for formyl-methionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine (fMLP), its effect on prostaglandin E (PGE) release, and the signal transduction pathway activated by the peptide were investigated in human amnion-derived WISH cells. Our results demonstrate that specific binding sites for fMLP are present on WISH cells and that the peptide induces a significant increase of prostaglandin (PG)E2 release. The kinetic properties of binding are similar to those previously found in amnion tissue prior to the onset of labor, i.e., only one population of binding sites with low affinity for the peptide is present. Binding of 3H-fMLP in WISH cells is inhibited by N-t-butoxycarbonyl-methionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine, an fMLP receptor antagonist, with an IC50 value very close to that shown by nonlaboring amnion. The fMLP-induced PGE2 output is inhibited by indomethacin, quinacrine, and U-73122, inhibitors of cyclooxygenase, phospholipase A2, and phospholipase C, respectively. As regards the transduction pathway activated by fMLP, we demonstrate that phospholipase C activation, followed by an increase of intracellular calcium concentration ([Ca2+]i), is involved in response to the peptide. Our results add further evidence to the role of proinflammatory agents in the determination of labor. Furthermore, because WISH cells appear to behave like nonlaboring amnion tissue, they represent the ideal candidate for in vitro investigation of the events triggering the mechanism of delivery
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