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Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2003 Jul;285(1):C76-87. Epub 2003 Mar 12.

Microtubule-dependent PKC-alpha localization in A7r5 smooth muscle cells.

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Joan Edwards School of Medicine, Marshall University, Huntington, WV 25704, USA.


Using laser scanning confocal, fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET), and atomic force (AFM) microscopy, we investigated association of protein kinase C (PKC)-alpha with microtubules during stimulus-induced relocalization in A7r5 smooth muscle cells. Confocal microscopy with standard immunostaining techniques confirmed earlier observations that colchicine disruption of microtubules blocked PKC-alpha localization in the perinuclear region of the cell caused by phorbol 12,13-dibutyrate (PDBu; 10-6M). Dual immunostaining suggested colocalization of PKC-alpha and beta-tubulin in both unstimulated and PDBu-treated cells. This finding was verified by FRET microscopy, which indicated that association of PKC-alpha was heterogeneous in distribution and confined primarily to microtubules in the perinuclear region. FRET analysis further showed that association between the molecules was not lost during colchicine-induced dissolution of microtubules, suggesting formation of tubulin-PKC-alpha complexes in the cytosol. Confocal imaging indicated that perinuclear microtubular structure was more highly sensitive to colchicine dissolution than other regions of the cell. Topographic imaging of fixed cells by AFM indicated a well-defined elevated structure surrounding the nucleus that was absent in colchicine-treated cells. It was calculated that the volume of the nuclear sleevelike structure of microtubules increased approximately fivefold in PDBu-treated cells, suggesting a probable increase in microtubular mass. In light of PKC-alpha localization, increased colchicine sensitivity, and their volume change in stimulated cells, the results suggest that perinuclear microtubules form a specialized structure that may be more dynamically robust than in other regions of the cell. PKC-alpha could contribute to this dynamic activity. Alternatively, perinuclear microtubules could act as a scaffold for regulatory molecule interaction at the cell center.

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