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Dev Biol. 1991 Aug;146(2):558-68.

Chronic exposure to an activator of protein kinase C mimics early effects of NGF in chromaffin cells.

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  • 1Wisconsin Regional Primate Research Center, Department of Physiology, Madison.


Adrenal chromaffin cells respond to nerve growth factor (NGF) in vitro by expressing neuronal characteristics and, over a period of 2 to 4 weeks, transdifferentiating into postmitotic sympathetic neurons. Phorbol myristate acetate (PMA) is a potent activator of protein kinase C (PKC); chronic exposure to PMA mimics the initial actions of NGF by promoting the outgrowth of neurites and increasing the incorporation of [3H] thymidine in primary cultures of adrenal chromaffin cells from young rats. PMA and NGF affect the same populations of cells and even individual neurites. These effects are specific for active phorbol ester and do not result from the release of NGF or FGF in the cultures. As in the case of NGF, the effects are inhibited by glucocorticoids. The PKC inhibitor staurosporine inhibits the effects of PMA, as well as those of NGF, in a dose-dependent manner. These results suggest that a modulation in activity of PKC is important in the neuritogenic and proliferative effects of NGF, at least for an initial period of approximately 1 week.

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