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J Biol Chem. 2005 Oct 21;280(42):35310-7. Epub 2005 Aug 23.

Protein kinase C delta induces apoptosis of vascular smooth muscle cells through induction of the tumor suppressor p53 by both p38-dependent and p38-independent mechanisms.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Division of Vascular Surgery, New York Presbyterian Hospital and Weill Medical College, Cornell University, New York, New York 10021, USA.


Apoptotic death of vascular smooth muscle cells (SMCs) is a prominent feature of blood vessel remodeling. In the present study, we examined the novel PKC isoform protein kinase C delta (PKCdelta) and its role in vascular SMC apoptosis. In A10 SMCs, overexpression of PKCdelta was sufficient to induce apoptosis, whereas inhibition of PKCdelta diminished H2O2-induced apoptosis. Moreover, evidence is provided that the tumor suppressor p53 is an essential mediator of PKCdelta-induced apoptosis in SMCs. Activation of PKCdelta led to accumulation as well as phosphorylation of p53 in SMCs; this induction correlated with apoptosis. Furthermore, blocking p53 induction with small interference RNA or targeted gene deletion prevented PKCdelta-induced apoptosis, whereas restoring p53 expression rescued the ability of PKCdelta to induce apoptosis in p53 null SMCs. We also establish that PKCdelta regulates p53 at both transcriptional and post-translational levels. Specifically, the transcriptional regulation required p38 MAPK, whereas the post-translational modification, at least for serine 46, did not involve MAPK. Additionally, PKCdelta, p38 MAPK, and p53 co-associate in cells under conditions favoring apoptosis. Together, our data suggest that SMC apoptosis proceeds through a pathway that involves PKCdelta, the intermediary p38 MAPK, and the downstream target tumor suppressor p53.

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