Nerve growth factor (NGF) stimulates rat pheochromocytoma cells (PC12) to differentiate into a neuronal-like cell that exhibits neurite extensions. The role of protein kinase C in signal transduction has been examined in PC12 cells treated with phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA) and bryostatin, a macrocyclic lactone that activates protein kinase C at both the nuclear and the plasma membranes [Hocevar, B. A., & Fields, A. P. (1991) J. Biol. Chem. 266, 28–33]. In contrast to PMA down-regulation [Reinhold, D. S., & Neet, K. E. (1989) J. Biol. Chem. 264, 3538–3544], chronic (24 h) treatment with bryostatin blocked the formation of neurites in response to NGF or basic fibroblast-derived growth factor stimulation, but, like PMA, bryostatin did not block the induction of c-fos or c-jun protooncogenes by NGF. Chronic bryostatin treatment down-regulated protein kinase C activity in the cytosolic, membrane, and nuclear fractions. Acute (60 min) bryostatin or NGF treatment activated cytosolic and nuclear protein kinase C activity, suggesting possible translocation to the nucleus. Bryostatin did not induce neurite outgrowth, either alone or in combination with PMA. Thus, the bryostatin-sensitive protein kinase C is distinct from PMA- or K252a-sensitive kinases previously described. The bryostatin-sensitive protein kinase C is necessary, but not sufficient, for neurite outgrowth and acts in the nucleus in a manner independent of c-fos and c-jun transcription.
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