Protein Kinase Cα (PKCα) is resistant to long term desensitization/down-regulation by prolonged diacylglycerol stimulation

Michelle A. Lum, Carter J. Barger, Alice H. Hsu, Olga V. Leontieva, Adrian R. Black, Jennifer D. Black

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Sustained activation of PKCα is required for long term physiological responses, such as growth arrest and differentiation. However, studies with pharmacological agonists (e.g. phorbol 12-myristate 13- Acetate (PMA)) indicate that prolonged stimulation leads to PKCα desensitization via dephosphorylation and/or degradation. The current study analyzed effects of chronic stimulation with the physiological agonist diacylglycerol. Repeated addition of 1,2-dioctanoyl-sn-glycerol (DiC8) resulted in sustained plasma membrane association of PKCα in a pattern comparable with that induced by PMA. However, although PMA potently down-regulated PKCα, prolonged activation by DiC8 failed to engage known,desensitization mechanisms, with the enzyme remaining membrane- Associated and able to support sustained downstream signaling. DiC8- Activated PKCα did not undergo dephosphorylation, ubiquitination, or internalization, early events in PKCα desensitization. Although DiC8 efficiently down-regulated novel PKCs PKCα and PKCα, differences in Ca2+ sensitivity and diacylglycerol affinity were excluded as mediators of the selective resistance of PKCα. Roles for Hsp/Hsc70 and Hsp90 were also excluded. PMA, but not DiC8, targeted PKCα to detergent-resistant membranes, and disruption of these domains with cholesterol-binding agents demonstrated a role for differential membrane compartmentalization in selective agonist-induced degradation. Chronic DiC8 treatment failed to desensitize PKCα in several cell types and did not affect PKCβI; thus, conventional PKCs appear generally insensitive to desensitization by sustained diacylglycerol stimulation. Consistent with this conclusion, prolonged (several-day) membrane association/activation ofPKCα is seen in self-renewing epithelium of the intestine, cervix, and skin. PKCα deficiency affects gene expression, differentiation, and tumorigenesis in these tissues, highlighting the importance of mechanisms that protect PKCα from desensitization in vivo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6331-6346
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number12
StatePublished - Mar 18 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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