Background & Aims: The present study was undertaken to evaluate the role of serine proteases in regulating digestive enzyme secretion in pancreatic acinar cells. Methods: Isolated acini were stimulated by various secretagogues in the presence or absence of cell-permeant serine protease inhibitors 4-(2-aminoethyl)-benzenesulfonyl fluoride and Nα-p-tosyl-L-phenylalanine chloromethyl ketone. F-actin distribution was studied after staining with rhodamine phalloidin. Results: Both cell-permeant serine protease inhibitors blocked amylase secretion in response to secretagogues that use calcium as a second messenger (e.g., cerulein, carbamylcholine, and bombesin) but not to those that use adenosine 3′,5′-cyclic monophosphate (cAMP) as a second messenger (e.g., secretin and vasoactive intestinal polypeptide). Incubation of the acini with these inhibitors also resulted in a dramatic redistribution of the F-actin cytoskeleton. This redistribution was energy dependent. Similar redistribution of F-actin from the apical to the basolateral region was also observed when acini were incubated with a supramaximally stimulating concentration of cerulein, which is known to inhibit secretion. Conclusions: These results suggest that a serine protease activity is essential for maintaining the normal apical F-actin distribution; its inhibition redistributes F-actin from the apical to the basolateral region and blocks secretion induced by secretagogues that act via calcium. cAMP reverses the F-actin redistribution and hence cAMP-mediated secretion is not affected.
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