1. This study was aimed at identifying the signalling pathways involved in the activation of volume-regulatory mechanisms of human cervical cancer cells. 2. Osmotic swelling of human cervical cancer cells induced a substantial increase in intracellular Ca2+ ([Ca2+]i) by the activation of Ca2+ entry across the cell membrane, as well as Ca2+ release from intracellular stores. This Ca2+ signalling was critical for the normal regulatory volume decrease (RVD) response. 3. The activation of swelling-activated ion and taurine transport was significantly inhibited by tyrosine kinase inhibitors (genistein and tyrphostin AG 1478) and potentiated by the tyrosine phosphatase inhibitor Na3VO4. However, the Src family of tyrosine kinases was not involved in regulation of the swelling-activated Cl- channel. 4. Cell swelling triggered mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase cascades leading to the activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1 and 2 (ERK1/ERK2) and p38 kinase. The volume-responsive ERK1/ERK2 signalling pathway linked with the activation of K+ and Cl- channels, and taurine transport. However, the volume-regulatory mechanism was independent of the activation of p38 MAP kinase. 5. The phosphorylated ERK1/ERK2 expression following a hypotonic shock was up-regulated by protein kinase C (PKC) activator phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA) and down-regulated by PKC inhibitor staurosporine. The response of ERK activation to hypotonicity also required Ca2+ entry and depended on tyrosine kinase and mitogen-activated/ERK-activating kinase (MEK) activity. 6. Considering the results overall, osmotic swelling promotes the activation of tyrosine kinase and ERK1/ERK2 and raises intracellular Ca2+, all of which play a crucial role in the volume-regulatory mechanism of human cervical cancer cells.
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