- Differentiation of myeloid cells is associated with the gradual acquisition of functional capacity to produce a respiratory burst. In our study HL-60 cells were differentiated to the monocyte phenotype with IFN-gamma or 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3, or to the neutrophil phenotype with retinoic acid or DMSO to compare the time-course of expression of membrane and cytosolic oxidase components, and to correlate this with the appearance of a functional oxidase. Over a 6-day period of induction the rank order of the ability of these agents to induce expression of PMA-stimulated superoxide production was: IFN-gamma greater than 1,25(OH)2D3 greater than retinoic acid greater than DMSO. Immunoblot analysis of HL-60 membranes and cytosol was used to assess the amount of specific phagocyte oxidase factors (91 and 22 kDa subunits of membrane cytochrome b558 (gp91 and p22), and 47 and 67 kDa cytosol oxidase factors (p47 and p67)). HL-60 cell membranes or cytosol were tested in a cell-free assay of superoxide production by mixing with normal neutrophil cytosol or membranes, respectively. p47 was first detected at 16 h of differentiation, increasing similarly thereafter with all induction regimens and reaching a maximum by 3 to 4 days. The earliest detection of p67 varied from 2 to 6 days depending on the inducing agent and appeared to be the limiting cytosol component. Small amounts of both subunits of cytochrome b558 were detected in uninduced HL-60 membranes, but were sufficient to support substantial superoxide production when combined with normal neutrophil cytosol. Both cytochrome b558 subunit proteins and membrane oxidase activity increased during differentiation in parallel. We conclude that membrane and cytosol components of the NADPH oxidase complex appear at different times and increase differently during HL-60 differentiation. The production of p67 is the major factor limiting the respiratory burst during HL-60 differentiation.