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Mol Cell Biol. 2005 Feb;25(3):1146-61.

Phosphorylation of Par-4 by protein kinase A is critical for apoptosis.

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Department of Radiation Medicine, University of Kentucky, Combs Research Building, Rm. 303, 800 Rose Street, Lexington, KY 40536, USA.


Despite distinct dissimilarities, diverse cancers express several common protumorigenic traits. We present here evidence that the proapoptotic protein Par-4 utilizes one such common tumorigenic trait to become selectively activated and induce apoptosis in cancer cells. Elevated protein kinase A (PKA) activity noted in cancer cells activated the apoptotic function of ectopic Par-4 or its SAC (selective for apoptosis induction in cancer cells) domain, which induces apoptosis selectively in cancer cells and not in normal or immortalized cells. PKA preferentially phosphorylated Par-4 at the T155 residue within the SAC domain in cancer cells. Moreover, pharmacological-, peptide-, or small interfering RNA-mediated inhibition of PKA activity in cancer cells resulted in abrogation of both T155 phosphorylation and apoptosis by Par-4. The mechanism of activation of endogenous Par-4 was similar to that of ectopic Par-4, and in response to exogenous stimuli, endogenous Par-4 induced apoptosis by a PKA- and phosphorylated T155-dependent mechanism. Enforced elevation of PKA activity in normal cells resulted in apoptosis by the SAC domain of Par-4 in a T155-dependent manner. Together, these observations suggest that selective apoptosis of cancer cells by the SAC domain of Par-4 involves phosphorylation of T155 by PKA. These findings uncover a novel mechanism engaging PKA, a procancerous activity commonly elevated in most tumor cells, to activate the cancer selective apoptotic action of Par-4.

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