The Journal of Biochemistry
Online ISSN : 1756-2651
Print ISSN : 0021-924X
Protein Kinase Cη (PKCη): Its Involvement in Keratinocyte Differentiation
Mariko KashiwagiMotoi OhbaKazuhiro ChidaToshio Kuroki
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2002 Volume 132 Issue 6 Pages 853-857


The η isoform of protein kinase C (PKCη) is classified into the Cat2+-independent novel PKC subfamily and assigned to human chromosome 14 (14q22-23) and mouse chromosome 12 (12C3-D2). It is highly expressed in epithelial tissues especially in squamous epithelia. PKCη is unique in that it is specifically activated by cholesterol sulfate and sulfatide, sulfated metabolites of cholesterol and cerebroside, respectively. PKCη over-expression induces G1 arrest and differentiation in keratinocytes. PKCη-induced differentiation is accompanied by the transcriptional activation of transglutaminase I, a key enzyme in squamous differentiation, and involucrin, a precursor of cornified envelopes. In keratinocytes, PKCη associates with the cyclin E/cdk2/p21 complex and inhibits the cdk2-kinase activity, leading to G1 arrest. Cholesterol sulfate inhibits the promotional phase of skin carcinogenesis. Moreover, PKCηknockout mice show a much higher sensitivity to carcinogenesis, suggesting that PKCη is negatively involved in tumor promotion through stimulation of keratinocyte differentiation. In addition to epithelial cells, recent studies revealed that PKCη acts as a key regulator in early B-cell development.Although the functions of PKCη in other cell types are not yet fully elucidated, available evidence indicates that this particular isoform plays crucial roles in the signaling of cell differentiation in a cell-type-specific manner.

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