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J Biol Chem. 1998 Sep 25;273(39):25436-42.

A functional role for mitochondrial protein kinase Calpha in Bcl2 phosphorylation and suppression of apoptosis.

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  • 1Sealy Center for Oncology and Hematology and the Department of Internal Medicine, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas 77555, USA.


Phosphorylation of Bcl2 at serine 70 may result from activation of a classic protein kinase C (PKC) isoform and is required for functional suppression of apoptosis by Bcl2 in murine growth factor-dependent cell lines (Ito, T., Deng, X., Carr, B., and May, W. S. (1997) J. Biol. Chem. 272, 11671-11673). Human pre-B REH cells express high levels of Bcl2 yet remain sensitive to the chemotherapeutic agents etoposide, cytosine arabinoside, and Adriamycin. In contrast, myeloid leukemia-derived HL60 cells express less than half the level of Bcl-2 but are >10-fold more resistant to apoptosis induced by these drugs. The mechanism responsible for this apparent dichotomy appears to involve a deficiency of mitochondrial PKCalpha since 1) HL60 but not REH cells contain highly phosphorylated Bcl2; 2) PKCalpha is the only classical isoform co-localized with Bcl2 in HL60 but not REH mitochondrial membranes; 3) the natural product and potent PKC activator bryostatin-1 induces mitochondrial localization of PKCalpha in association with Bcl2 phosphorylation and increased REH cell resistance to drug-induced apoptosis; 4) PKCalpha can directly phosphorylate wild-type but not phosphorylation-negative and loss of function S70A Bcl2 in vitro; 5) stable, forced expression of exogenous PKCalpha induces mitochondrial localization of PKCalpha, increased Bcl2 phosphorylation and a >10-fold increase in resistance to drug-induced cell death; and () PKCalpha-transduced cells remain highly sensitive to staurosporine, a potent PKC inhibitor. Furthermore, treatment of the PKCalpha transformants with bryostatin-1 leads to even higher levels of mitochondrial PKCalpha, Bcl2 phosphorylation, and REH cell survival following chemotherapy. While these findings strongly support a role for PKCalpha as a functional Bcl2 kinase that can enhance cell resistance to antileukemic chemotherapy, they do not exclude the possibility that another Bcl2 kinase(s) may also exist. Collectively, these findings identify a functional role for PKCalpha in Bcl2 phosphorylation and in resistance to chemotherapy and suggest a novel target for antileukemic strategies.

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