Biochemical and immunological comparison of mouse C3H 10T½ fibroblasts and C3H 10T½ fibroblasts transfected with human activated Ha-ras oncogene indicated significantly lower levels of protein kinase C (PKC) activity and protein in the ras-transfected cells. This effect was observed in three clonal cell lines transfected with an activated ras oncogene. Cytosolic extracts of the ras-transfected cells contained calcium-activated, phospholipid-dependent protein kinase (PKC) activity at 61% of the level of activity present in C3H 10T½ cells. A similarly decreased level of phorbol ester-binding activity was observed in these cells. Analysis of the subcellular distribution of PKC activity in cells failed to indicate significant differences between these cell lines. Immunoblots showed a lower abundance of the Mr 80,000 PKC in ras-transfected cell homogenates and extracts compared to C3H 10T½ cells. Both C3H 10T½ cells and cells transfected with ras expressed only one of the PKC isozymes as resolved by hydroxylapatite chromatography demonstrating that ras transfection of cells did not induce expression of alternative PKC isozymes. These observations indicate that PKC was partially down-regulated in ras-transfected cells, perhaps resulting from constitutively elevated levels of products of phosphatidylinositol-4,5-bisphosphate hydrolysis. Although C3H 10T½ cells were previously shown to be distinct from NIH 3T3 cells in their sensitivity to transformation by the T24-ras oncogene, ras transformation appears to partially down-regulate PKC in C3H 10T½ cells in a manner identical to that for ras-transformed NIH 3T3 cells. This indicates that down-regulation of PKC directly results from the expression of an activated ras oncogene independently of cellular sensitivity to transformation by expression of ras. The common action of ras transformation and phorbol esters to down-regulate PKC provides a possible mechanism for synergism during multistage carcinogenesis.

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This research was supported by grants R01 CA36262, P01 CA 36761 (CLA), and R23 CA 42835 (EJT) from NIH, and CD-329 (EJT) and JFRA 106 (CLA) from the American Cancer Society.

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