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Exp Cell Res. 1990 Jun;188(2):199-208.

Staurosporine induces dissolution of microfilament bundles by a protein kinase C-independent pathway.

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Institute of Molecular Biology, University of Oregon, Eugene 97403.


The protein kinase C (PKC) inhibitor staurosporine was found to dramatically alter the actin microfilament cytoskeleton of a variety of cultured cells, including PTK2 epithelial cells, Swiss 3T3 fibroblasts, and human foreskin fibroblasts. For example, PTK2 cells exposed to 20 nM staurosporine exhibited a progressive thinning and loss of cytoplasmic actin microfilament bundles over a 60-min period. During this time microtubule and intermediate filament systems remained intact (as shown by immunofluorescence and at higher resolution by photoelectron microscopy), and the cells remained spread even though microfilament bundles were absent. Higher doses of staurosporine or longer exposure times at lower doses resulted in morphological alterations, but even severely arborized cells recovered normal morphology and actin patterns after a wash and an incubation for several hours in fresh medium. The actin filament disruption induced by staurosporine was distinguishable from the actin reorganization induced by exposure to the tumor promoter (and activator of PKC) phorbol myristate acetate (PMA). Swiss 3T3 cells made deficient in PKC by prolonged exposure to PMA (PKC down-regulation) exhibited actin alterations in response to staurosporine which were comparable to those in cells which had not been exposed to the phorbol ester. In a parallel control experiment, the actin cytoskeleton of PKC-deficient 3T3 cells was unaffected in response to PMA, consistent with down-regulation of this kinase. While the exact mechanism of staurosporine-induced actin reorganization remains to be determined, the observed effects of staurosporine on PKC-deficient cells make a role for PKC unlikely. These results indicate the need for care when staurosporine is employed as an inhibitor of protein kinase C in studies involving intact cells.

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