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Diabetologia. 2008 Apr;51(4):668-74. doi: 10.1007/s00125-008-0927-x. Epub 2008 Feb 16.

Increased renal gene transcription of protein kinase C-beta in human diabetic nephropathy: relationship to long-term glycaemic control.

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University of Melbourne Department of Medicine, St Vincent's Hospital, Fitzroy, VIC, Australia.



Activation of protein kinase C (PKC) isoforms has been implicated as a central mediator in the pathogenesis of diabetic nephropathy. Although high glucose levels stimulate catalytic activity of PKC, the effects of high glucose levels on the expression of genes encoding PKC isoforms are unknown. We sought to determine whether in addition to activation, diabetes may lead to increased transcription of two PKC isoforms that have been implicated in the pathogenesis of diabetic nephropathy, PKC-alpha and PKC-beta.


Recent advances in molecular biological techniques now permit quantitative analysis of mRNA from archival, formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue sections. RNA was extracted from scraped 6 microm sections of biopsy tissue, and PRKC-alpha and PRKC-beta (also known as PRKCA and PRKCB) mRNA measured using real-time PCR. Expression of genes encoding PKC isoforms was examined in renal biopsies (n=25) with classical histological features of diabetic nephropathy and compared with that in normal control tissue (n=6). Peptide localisation of PKC-alpha, PKC-beta and the activated forms phosphorylated PKC-alpha and -beta was also performed on matched paraffin-embedded sections of renal biopsies using immunohistochemistry. The effects of high glucose on PRKC-beta expression and peptide production in cultured human proximal tubular epithelial cells were assessed.


Quantitative real-time PCR demonstrated a 9.9-fold increase in PRKC-beta mRNA in kidney biopsies of diabetic patients relative to control (p<0.001). No increase in PRKC-alpha expression was seen. In addition, a correlation between renal PRKC-beta mRNA and HbA(1c) was observed in diabetic patients (r=0.63, p<0.05). There was co-localisation of PKC-beta and phospho-PKC-beta predominantly to proximal tubules. A 60% increase in PRKC-beta mRNA and peptide in cultured human proximal tubular epithelial cells exposed to high glucose (p<0.05) was seen in vitro.


PKC-beta is upregulated at the gene expression level in human diabetic nephropathy. PRKC-beta mRNA correlates closely with serum HbA(1c), possibly partially explaining the relationship between glycaemic control and progression of diabetic nephropathy. Archival human tissue provides a valuable resource for molecular analyses.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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