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FEBS Lett. 1994 Mar 14;341(1):19-22.

Curcumin is a non-competitive and selective inhibitor of phosphorylase kinase.

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Department of Clinical Immunology and Biological Therapy, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston 77030.


Recently, we reported that curcumin (diferuloylmethane) inhibits the growth of several different kinds of tumor cells. In order to investigate the mechanism of this inhibition, we examined the effects of curcumin on different protein kinases: highly purified protein kinase A (PkA), protein kinase C (PkC), protamine kinase (cPK), phosphorylase kinase (PhK), autophosphorylation-activated protein kinase (AK) and pp60c-src tyrosine kinase. While all kinases tested were inhibited by curcumin, only PhK was completely inhibited at relatively lower concentrations. At around 0.1 mM curcumin, PhK, pp60c-src, PkC, PkA, AK, and cPK were inhibited by 98%, 40%, 15%, 10%, 1%, and 0.5%, respectively. Lineweaver-Burk plot analysis indicated that curcumin is a non-competitive inhibitor of PhK with a Ki of 0.075 mM. Overall, our results indicate that curcumin is a potent and selective inhibitor of phosphorylase kinase, a key regulatory enzyme involved in the metabolism of glycogen. This has important implications for the anti-proliferative effects of curcumin.

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