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Neurochem Int. 2004 Mar;44(4):205-14.

Protein kinase C alpha requirement in the activation of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase, which is linked to the induction of tumor necrosis factor alpha in lipopolysaccharide-stimulated microglia.

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Neurobiology Lab, Department of Bioinformatics, Faculty of Engineering, Soka University, 1-236 Tangi-machi, Hachioji, Tokyo 192-8577, Japan.


Activated microglia have been suggested to produce a cytotoxic cytokine, tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF alpha), in many pathological brains. Thus, determining the molecular mechanism of this induction and suppression has been the focus of a great deal of research. Using lipopolysaccharide (LPS) as an experimental inducer of TNF alpha, we investigated the regulatory mechanism by which TNFalpha is induced or suppressed in microglia. We found that LPS-induced TNF alpha is suppressed by pretreatment with the p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (p38MAPK) inhibitor SB203580. Similar suppression was achieved by pretreatment with specific protein kinase C (PKC) inhibitors, Gö6976, myristoylated pseudosubstrate (20-28), and bisindolylmaleimide. These results suggest that PKC alpha activity as well as p38MAPK activity is associated with TNF alpha induction in LPS-stimulated microglia. The requirement of PKC alpha in LPS-dependent TNFalpha induction was verified in PKC alpha-downregulated microglia which could be induced by phorbol-12-myristate-13-acetate pretreatment. Simultaneously, PKC alpha was found to be requisite for the activation of p38MAPK in LPS-stimulated microglia. In addition, the PKC alpha levels in the LPS-stimulated microglia were observed to decrease in response to the p38MAPK inhibitor, indicating that the PKC alpha levels are regulated by the p38MAPK activity. We therefore concluded that PKC alpha and p38MAPK are interactively linked to the signaling cascade inducing TNFalpha in LPS-stimulated microglia, and that in this cascade, PKC alpha is requisite for the activation of p38MAPK, leading to the induction of TNF alpha.

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