Protein kinase Cι is required for Ras transformation and colon carcinogenesis in vivo
Protein kinase C (PKC) has been implicated in colon carcinogenesis in humans and in rodent models. However, little is known about the specific role of individual PKC isozymes in this process. We recently demonstrated that elevated expression of PKC betaII in the colonic epithelium induces hyperproliferation in vivo (N. R. Murray et al., J. Cell Biol., 145: 699-711, 1999). Because hyperproliferation is a major risk factor for colon cancer, we assessed whether specific alterations in PKC betaII expression occur during azoxymethane-induced colon carcinogenesis in mice. An increase in PKC betaII expression was observed in preneoplastic lesions (aberrant crypt foci, 3.7-fold) compared with saline-treated animals, and in colon tumors (7.8-fold; P = 0.011) compared with uninvolved colonic epithelium. In contrast, PKC alpha and PKC betaI (a splicing variant of PKC betaII) expression was slightly decreased in aberrant crypt foci and dramatically reduced in colon tumors. Quantitative reverse transcription-PCR analysis revealed that PKC mRNA levels do not directly correlate with PKC protein levels, indicating that PKC isozyme expression is likely regulated at the posttranscriptional/translational level. Finally, transgenic mice expressing elevated PKC betaII in the colonic epithelium exhibit a trend toward increased colon tumor formation after exposure to azoxymethane. Taken together, our results demonstrate that elevated expression of PKC betaII is an important early, promotive event that plays a role in colon cancer development.