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Int J Dev Neurosci. 1993 Jun;11(3):357-68.

Effects of selective inhibition of protein kinase C, cyclic AMP-dependent protein kinase, and Ca(2+)-calmodulin-dependent protein kinase on neurite development in cultured rat hippocampal neurons.

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Biology Department, University of Colorado, Denver 80217-3364.


A variety of experimental evidence suggests that calmodulin and protein kinases, especially protein kinase C, may participate in regulating neurite development in cultured neurons, particularly neurite initiation. However, the results are somewhat contradictory. Further, the roles of calmodulin and protein kinases on many aspects of neurite development, such as branching or elongation of axons vs dendrites, have not been extensively studied. Cultured embryonic rat hippocampal pyramidal neurons develop readily identifiable axons and dendrites. We used this culture system and the new generation of highly specific protein kinase inhibitors to investigate the roles of protein kinases and calmodulin in neurite development. Neurons were cultured for 2 days in the continuous presence of calphostin C (a specific inhibitor of protein kinase C), KT5720 (inhibitor of cyclic AMP-dependent protein kinase), KN62 (inhibitor of Ca(2+)-calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II), or calmidazolium (inhibitor of calmodulin), each at concentrations from approximately 1 to 10 times the concentration reported in the literature to inhibit each kinase by 50%. The effects of phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (an activator of protein kinase C) and 4 alpha-phorbol 12,13-didecanoate (an inactive phorbol ester) were also tested. At concentrations that had no effect on neuronal viability, calphostin C reduced neurite initiation and axon branching without significantly affecting the number of dendrites per neuron, dendrite branching, dendrite length, or axon length. Phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate increased axon branching and the number of dendrites per cell, compared to the inactive 4 alpha-phorbol 12,13-didecanoate. KT5720 inhibited only axon branching. KN62 reduced axon length, the number of dendrites per neuron, and both axon and dendrite branching. At low concentrations, calmidazolium had no effect on any aspect of neurite development, but at high concentrations, calmidazolium inhibited every parameter that was measured (including viability). These results suggest that these three protein kinases selectively modulate different aspects of neurite development. The university of effects caused by calmodulin inhibition make it impossible to determine if there are specific targets of calmodulin action involved in neurite development. Finally, our data indicate that some superficially similar characteristics of neuronal differentiation, such as neurite initiation and branching, may be controlled by quite different molecular mechanisms.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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