The protein kinase C (PKC) family, consisting of multiple isotypes, plays a major role in cellular signaling. In the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, four pkc genes, tpa-1, pkc-1, pkc-2 and pkc-3, have been identified and investigated. Molecular analysis of tpa-1, pkc-1, and pkc-2 has shown that each gene encodes multiple PKC isoforms with different expression patterns. One of the tpa-1 isoforms, which is expressed in vulval cells, is found to play a role in nicotine-induced adaptation. The expression of pkc-1 seems to be specific to neurons, while that of pkc-2 is detected in several types of cells including neurons and muscle cells. An aPKC member encoded by pkc-3 has been shown to play an essential role in establishing the polarity of the zygote. Recent studies have revealed that the mechanism of polarity establishment mediated by aPKC is evolutionarily conserved in diverse organisms from nematodes to mammals. C. elegans provides an excellent model system for molecular dissection of the cellular signaling pathways involving PKC.
The Japanese Biochemical Society