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Cancer Res. 2007 May 1;67(9):4320-7.

p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway is involved in protein kinase Calpha-regulated invasion in human hepatocellular carcinoma cells.

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  • 1Institute of Biochemistry and Biotechnology, School of Medicine, College of Medicine, Chung Shan Medical University, Taichung, Taiwan, Republic of China.


Protein kinase Calpha (PKCalpha) has been suggested to play an important role in tumorigenesis, invasion, and metastasis. In this study, we investigated the signal pathways selectively activated by PKCalpha in human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cells to determine the role of mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK) in PKCalpha-mediated HCC migration and invasion. A stable SK-Hep-1 cell clone (siPKCalpha-SK) expressing DNA-based small interfering RNA (siRNA) PKCalpha was established and was then characterized by cell growth, migration, and invasion. The expression of PKCalpha was decreased in siPKCalpha-SK, and cell growth, migration, and invasion were reduced. These changes were associated with the decrease in p38 MAPK phosphorylation level, but not in c-jun-NH(2)-kinase-1/2 (JNK-1/2) and extracellular signal-regulated kinase-1/2 (ERK-1/2). This phenomenon was confirmed in the SK-Hep-1 cells treated with antisense PKCalpha olignucleotide. The p38 MAPK inhibitor SB203580 or dominant negative p38 mutant plasmid (DN-p38) was used to evaluate the dependency of p38 MAPK in PKCalpha-regulated migration and invasion. Attenuation of cell migration and invasion was revealed in the SK-Hep-1 cells treated with the SB203580 or DN-p38, but not with ERK-1/2 inhibitor PD98059 or JNK-1/2 inhibitor SP600125. Overexpression of constitutively active MKK6 or PKCalpha may restore the inactivation of p38 and the attenuation of cell migration and invasion in siPKCalpha-SK. Similar findings were observed in the stable HA22T/VGH cell clone expressing siRNA PKCalpha. This study provides new insight into the role of p38 MAPK in PKCalpha-mediated malignant phenotypes, especially in PKCalpha-mediated cancer cell invasion, which may have valuable implications for developing new therapies for some PKCalpha-overexpressing cancers.

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