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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Ionomycin stimulates mast cell histamine secretion by forming a lipid-soluble calcium complex.

The activation of cellular function following the direct introduction of Ca2+ into the cytosol by the use of a Ca2+-transporting ionophore has served to confirm the widely held idea that Ca2+ has the status of a second messenger in many cell types. However, this evidence has been obtained largely from the use of a single ionophore, the antibiotic A23187; experiments with X537A, which is another ionophorous antibiotic capable of transporting Ca2+ (ref. 3), have failed to show the expected characteristics. For example, histamine release from rat mast cells mediated by X537A is neither dependent on extracellular Ca2+ nor prevented by metabolic inhibitors. Ionomycin is a recently described polyether antibiotic produced by Streptomyces conglobatus ATCC 31005, and is active against Gram-positive bacteria. The antibiotic action is presumably due to its ionophorous properties, as it extracts Ca2+ from an aqueous phase into an organic phase with a stoichiometry of 1:1 (ref. 6). The ionophore is also capable of transporting 45Ca2+ across biological membranes (our unpublished results). Here we report the application of ionomycin to rat mast cells. We show that ionomycin stimulates mast cell secretion solely through its ability to form a lipid-soluble calcium complex, and thus to convey Ca2+ across the hydrocarbon region of the cell membrane.[1]


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