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Circ Res. 2003 Apr 4;92(6):617-22. Epub 2003 Mar 6.

Protein kinase C signaling transduces endorphin-primed cardiogenesis in GTR1 embryonic stem cells.

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Department of Biomedical Sciences, Center for Biotechnology Development and Biodiversity Research, University of Sassari, Viale San Pietro 43/B, 07100 Sassari, Italy.


The prodynorphin gene and its product, dynorphin B, have been found to promote cardiogenesis in embryonic cells by inducing the expression of GATA-4 and Nkx-2.5, two transcription factor-encoding genes essential for cardiogenesis. The molecular mechanism(s) underlying endorphin-induced cardiogenesis remain unknown. In the present study, we found that GTR1 embryonic stem (ES) cells expressed cell surface kappa opioid receptors, as well as protein kinase C (PKC)-alpha, -beta1, -beta2, -delta, -epsilon, and -zeta. Cardiac differentiation was associated with a marked increase in the Bmax value for a selective opioid receptor ligand and complex subcellular redistribution of selected PKC isozymes. PKC-alpha, -beta1, -beta2, -delta, and -epsilon all increased in the nucleus of ES-derived cardiac myocytes, compared with nuclei from undifferentiated cells. In both groups of cells, PKC-delta and -epsilon were mainly expressed at the nuclear level. The nuclear increase of PKC-alpha, -beta1, and -beta2 was due to a translocation from the cytosolic compartment. In contrast, the increase of both PKC-delta and PKC-epsilon in the nucleus of ES-derived cardiomyocytes occurred independently of enzyme translocation, suggesting changes in isozyme turnover and/or gene expression during cardiogenesis. No change in PKC-zeta expression was observed during cardiac differentiation. Opioid receptor antagonists prevented the nuclear increase of PKC-alpha, PKC-beta1, and PKC-beta2 and reduced cardiomyocyte yield but failed to affect the nuclear increase in PKC-delta and -epsilon. PKC inhibitors prevented the expression of cardiogenic genes and dynorphin B in ES cells and abolished their development into beating cardiomyocytes.

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