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Cancer Sci. 2008 Mar;99(3):486-96. doi: 10.1111/j.1349-7006.2007.00702.x. Epub 2007 Dec 27.

Involvement of protein kinase C beta-extracellular signal-regulating kinase 1/2/p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase-heat shock protein 27 activation in hepatocellular carcinoma cell motility and invasion.

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Liver Cancer Institute, Zhongshan Hospital, Fudan University, No. 180 Fenglin Road, Shanghai 200032, China.


To understand the molecular mechanism that underlies the role of various prominent signal pathways in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) metastasis, a human signal transduction oligonucleotide microarray analysis was carried out in cultured HCC cell models with increasing spontaneous metastatic potential (MHCC97L, MHCC97H, and HCCLM6). The results revealed that the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway is the prominently upregulated pathway in HCC metastasis. Further study showed that basal phosphorylated levels of extracellular signal-regulating kinase (ERK)(1/2) and p38 MAPK consecutively increased from MHCC97L to MHCC97H to HCCLM6 cells, but not c-Jun N-terminal kinase. The phosphorylation of ERK(1/2) and p38 MAPK was regulated by upregulated protein kinase C beta (PKC beta) in HCC cells through the integrated use of PKC beta RNA interference, the PKC beta specific inhibitor enzastaurin and a PKC activator phorbol-12-myristate-13-acetate. Heat shock protein 27 (HSP27) was also verified as a downstream common activated protein of PKC beta-ERK(1/2) and PKC beta-p38 MAPK. In vitro migration and invasion assay further showed that the depletion of PKC beta or inhibition of PKC beta activation effectively decreased HCC cell motility and invasion. Moreover, the motility and invasion of phorbol-12-myristate-13-acetate-stimulated PKC beta-mediated HCC cells was significantly negated by an ERK inhibitor, 1.4-diamino-2.3-dicyano-1.4-bis[2-aminophenylthio] butadiene, or a p38 MAPK inhibitor, 4-(4-Fluorophenyl)-2-(4-methylsulfinylphenyl)-5-(4-pyridyl)1H-imidazole. It also showed that HSP27 is critical in PKC beta-mediated HCC cell motility and invasion. Taken together, this study reveals the important role of this PKC beta-ERK(1/2)/p38MAPK-HSP27 pathway, which was verified for the first time, in modulating HCC cell motility and invasion.

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