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J Invest Dermatol. 2002 Dec;119(6):1282-9.

Activation of protein kinase C triggers irreversible cell cycle withdrawal in human keratinocytes.

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Loyola University Medical Center, Department of Pathology and the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, 2160 S. First Avenue, Maywood, IL 60153, USA.


Irreversible cell cycle withdrawal occurs as normal keratinocytes detach from the basement membrane and initiate their terminal differentiation program. To investigate which signaling pathways regulate this permanent cell cycle withdrawal, we added inhibitors of kinases implicated in integrin signaling and keratinocyte differentiation to normal human keratinocytes induced to differentiate in suspension culture, and assayed the growth capacity of the recovered cells. Keratinocytes suspended in methylcellulose for 24 h underwent approximately 1000-fold loss of proliferative capacity. Of the kinase inhibitors tested, only the protein kinase C inhibitor Bisindolylmaleimide I (GF109203X) caused dramatic protection from loss of growth potential. Direct activation of protein kinase C by 12-O-tetradecanoyl-phorbol-13-acetate was also sufficient to trigger irreversible growth arrest. Protein kinase C inhibitors selective for protein kinase Calpha, the only Ca2+-dependent protein kinase C isoform in keratinocytes, protected keratinocytes from suspension-induced cell cycle withdrawal. Consistent with this finding, we measured a specific induction of Ca2+-dependent protein kinase C activity 2-3 h after keratinocytes were placed into suspension culture. Furthermore, protein kinase Calpha was strongly localized to cell membranes in the suprabasal keratinocytes of human epidermis, suggesting translocation and activation in vivo. Coordinated changes in cell cycle regulators (p21, p27, pRb, p107, p130) consistent with cells exiting the cell cycle were observed in suspended keratinocytes, and these changes were blocked by protein kinase C inhibition. These results indicate that the loss of cell matrix adhesion triggers protein kinase C activation, which is an early event required for cell cycle withdrawal of terminally differentiating normal human keratinocytes.

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