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Eur J Immunol. 1999 Jan;29(1):132-42.

Protein kinase Ctheta, a selective upstream regulator of JNK/SAPK and IL-2 promoter activation in Jurkat T cells.

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Institute for Medical Biology and Human Genetics, University of Innsbruck, Austria.


The predominant expression of protein kinase C (PKC) theta in T cells (J. Biol. Chem. 1993. 268: 4997-5004), its isoenzyme-specific ability to stimulate AP-1 transcriptional activity (Mol. Cell. Biol. 1996. 16: 1842-1850) and the recent discovery of its selective and antigen-dependent colocalization with the contact region between T cells and antigen-presenting cells (Nature 1997. 385: 83-89) suggest that, among the PKC family members, PKCtheta plays a specialized role in T cell activation. By investigating the downstream effectors of PKCtheta we now demonstrate a direct and isoenzyme-specific contribution of PKCtheta to c-Jun-N-terminal kinase/stress-activated protein kinase (JNK/SAPK) but not extracellular regulated kinase (ERK) activation. Expression of a constitutively active (CA) form of PKCtheta (but not CA-PKCalpha, epsilon and lambda/iota) resulted in strong activation of JNK/SAPK and expression of a dominant-negative form of PKCtheta interfered with the endogenous activation signal for JNK/SAPK. Importantly, Ca2+ ionophore and CA-PKCtheta (but not CA-PKCalpha, epsilon and lambda/iota) caused synergistic activation of the IL-2 promoter. Together, these data establish that PKCtheta is required for activation of JNK/SAPK signaling leading to IL-2 promoter transcription in T lymphocytes.

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