Stable transformation of Rat-1 fibroblasts by the v-Src oncoprotein results into the constitutive formation of macropinosomes. In the present report, we found that macropinosomes do not fuse with transferrin-containing endosomes and investigated the effects of cyclic AMP as a regulator of macropinocytosis in this cell system. The permeant analogs dibutyryl cyclic AMP and 8-bromo-cyclic AMP, as well as the pharmacological activator of adenylate cyclase forskolin, similarly decreased by about 35% the net endocytic accumulation of the fluid-phase tracer horseradish peroxidase at intervals >5 minutes in v-Src-transformed cells but not in the non-transformed parental Rat-1 cell line. However, and in contrast to the phospholipase C inhibitor 2-nitro-4-carboxyphenyl-N, N-diphenylcarbamate or the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase inhibitor wortmannin, dibutyryl cyclic AMP neither returned the peroxidase accumulation rate of v-Src-transformed cells to that of parental Rat-1/control cells, nor prevented macropinosome formation, as shown by confocal microscopy. Detailed analysis of the kinetics of tracer entry and efflux in transformed cells revealed that dibutyryl cyclic AMP inhibited peroxidase accumulation only after intervals >5 minutes, due to accelerated peroxidase regurgitation, but did not alter the rate of transferrin recycling. Taken together, these data indicate that, in v-Src-transformed fibroblasts, macropinocytosis and micropinocytosis serve different pathways and that cyclic AMP affects neither micropinocytosis nor the formation of macropinosomes, but selectively promotes regurgitation therefrom.

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