The Journal of Biochemistry
Online ISSN : 1756-2651
Print ISSN : 0021-924X
Protein Kinase Cθ (PKCθ): A Key Enzyme in T Cell Life and Death
Amnon AltmanMartin Villalba
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2002 Volume 132 Issue 6 Pages 841-846


The novel protein kinase C (PKC) isoform, PKCθ, is expressed in a relatively selective manner in T lymphocytes (and muscle). Recent analysis of this PKC isotype in T cells and the characterization of PKCθ-deficient mice revealed important clues about its function and regulation. PKCθ does not have an obvious role in T cell development, but it is essential for the activation of mature T cells. The requirement of PKCθ for T cell activation, proliferation and cytokine production reflects the essential role of this isotype in inducing signaling pathways leading to the activation of the transcription factors AP-1 and NF-κB in a T cell-specific manner. A unique feature of PKCθ is its highly selective translocation to the central region of the immunological synapse (IS) in antigen-stimulated T cells, a property apparently important for its proper signaling functions. This localization implies unique pathway(s) that regulate the translocation and/or activation of this enzyme. Our work suggests that sustained PKCθ membrane translocation and phosphorylation are relatively independent of phospholipase C (PLC) activation and diacylglycerol (DAG) production. Instead, a pathway that requires Vav, phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3-K), Racl and actin cytoskeleton reorganization mediates these events. Additionally, PKCθ provides an important survival signal to T cells. Nevertheless, several questions regarding the function and regulation of PKCθ and the identity of its immediate targets/substrates remain open. Resolution of these questions could open the way to the development of selective PKCθ inhibitors, which may have therapeutic potential in immunological diseases and in cancer.

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