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J Invest Dermatol. 2004 Sep;123(3):434-43.

Bax activation and induction of apoptosis in human keratinocytes by the protein kinase C delta catalytic domain.

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Department of Pathology and the Oncology Institute, Skin Cancer Research Program, Loyola University Medical Center, 2160 S. First Avenue, Maywood, IL 60153, USA.


The constitutively active catalytic domain of protein kinase C (PKC)delta is an apoptotic effector generated by caspase-3 cleavage of full-length PKCdelta in response to a wide variety of apoptotic stimuli, including UV radiation. The PKCdelta catalytic domain induces apoptosis when ectopically expressed, however, the mechanism of apoptosis induction is unclear. We constructed a chimeric protein encoding the PKCdelta catalytic domain fused to a mutated estrogen receptor ligand-binding domain in order to selectively activate the PKCdelta catalytic domain. The enzymatic activity of the PKCdelta catalytic domain fusion protein was induced in human keratinocytes treated with 4-hydroxytamoxifen, and its activation triggered loss of mitochondrial membrane potential and apoptosis. The apoptosis was associated with release of cytochrome c from the mitochondria and caspase activation, and was blocked by caspase inhibitors and the anti-apoptotic proteins Bcl-2, and Bcl-x(L), suggesting a role for mitochondrial pore formation. Consistent with this, the activated PKCdelta catalytic domain triggered the redistribution and activation of Bax, a Bcl-2 family protein that can directly induce cytochrome c release. In summary, despite being an apoptotic effector activated late in the apoptotic cascade, PKCdelta also activates upstream components of the death effector pathway to insure the demise of cells committed to apoptosis.

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