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1.  Post-Ischemic Activation of Protein Kinase C Epsilon Protects the Hippocampus from Cerebral Ischemic Injury via Alterations in Cerebral Blood Flow 
Neuroscience letters  2010;487(2):158-162.
Protein Kinase C (PKC) is a family of serine/threonine-isozymes that are involved in many signaling events in normal and disease states. Previous studies from our lab have demonstrated that εPKC plays a pivotal role in neuroprotection induced by ischemic preconditioning. However, the role of εPKC during and after brain ischemia is not clearly defined. Therefore, in the present study, we tested the hypothesis that activation of εPKC during an ischemic event is neuroprotective. Furthermore, other studies have demonstrated that εPKC mediates cerebral ischemic tolerance in the rat brain by decreasing vascular tone. Thus, we also tested the effects of εPKC activation during ischemia on cerebral blood flow (CBF). We found that ψε-Receptors for activated C kinase (RACK), a εPKC-selective peptide activator, injected intravenously 30 minutes before induction of global cerebral ischemia conferred neuroprotection in the CA1 region of the rat hippocampus. Moreover, measurements of CBF before, during and after cerebral ischemia revealed a significant reduction in the reperfusion phase of rats pretreated with ψεRACK compared to Tat peptide (vehicle). Our results suggest that εPKC can protect the rat brain against ischemic damage by regulating CBF. Thus, εPKC may be one of the treatment modalities against ischemic injury.
PMCID: PMC3004991  PMID: 20951185
Ischemia; epsilon Protein Kinase C; Cerebral Blood Flow; Neuroprotection
2.  Activation of εPKC Reduces Reperfusion Arrhythmias and Improves Recovery from Ischemia: Optical Mapping of Activation Patterns in the Isolated Guinea-pig Heart 
Pervious biochemical and hemodymanic studies have highlighted the important role of εPKC in cardioprotection during ischemic preconditioning. However, little is known about the electrophysiological consequences of εPKC modulation in ischemic hearts. Membrane permeable peptide εPKC selective activator and inhibitor were used to investigate the role of εPKC modulation in reperfusion arrhythmias.
Protein transduction domain from HIV- TAT was used as a carrier for peptide delivery into intact Langendorff perfused guinea pig hearts. Action potentials were imaged and mapped (124 sites) using optical techniques and surface ECG was continuously recorded. Hearts were exposed to 30 min stabilization period, 15 min of no-flow ischemia, followed by 20 min reperfusion. Peptides (0.5 μM) were infused as follows: a) control (vehicle-TAT peptide; TAT-scrambled ψεRACK peptide); b) εPKC agonist (TAT-ψεRACK); c) εPKC antagonist (TAT-εV1).
Hearts treated with εPKC agonist ψεRACK had reduced incidence of ventricular tachycardia (VT, 64%) and fibrillation (VF, 50%) compared to control (VT, 80%, p<0.05) and (VF, 70%, P<0.05). However, the highest incidence of VT (100%, P<0.05) and VF (80%) occurred in hearts treated with εPKC antagonist peptide εV1 compared to control and to εPKC agonist ψεRACK. Interestingly, at 20 min reperfusion, 100% of hearts treated with εPKC agonist ψεRACK exhibited complete recovery of action potentials compared to 40% (p<0.05) of hearts treated with εPKC antagonist peptide, εV1 and 65% (P<0.5) of hearts in control. At 20 min reperfusion, maps of action potential duration from εPKC agonist ψεRACK showed minimal dispersion (48.2±9 ms) compared to exacerbated dispersion (115.4±42 ms, P<0.05) in εPKC antagonist and control (67±20 ms, P<0.05). VT/VF and dispersion from hearts treated with scrambled agonist or antagonist peptides were similar to control.
In conclusion
the results demonstrate that εPKC activation by ψεRACK peptide protects intact hearts from reperfusion arrhythmias and affords better recovery. On the other hand, inhibition of εPKC increased the incidence of arrhythmias and worsened recovery compared to controls. The results carry significant therapeutic implications for the treatment of acute ischemic heart disease by preconditioning-mimicking agents.
PMCID: PMC3459326  PMID: 22935420
cardiac electrophysiology; Protein Kinase C; reperfusion arrhythmia; optical mapping
3.  Identification of εPKC targets during cardiac ischemic injury 
Activation of ε protein kinase C (εPKC) protects hearts from ischemic injury. However, some of the mechanism(s) of εPKC mediated cardioprotection are still unclear. Identification of εPKC targets may aid to elucidate εPKC–mediated cardioprotective mechanisms. Previous studies, using a combination of εPKC transgenic mice and difference in gel electrophoresis (DIGE), identified a number of proteins involved in glucose metabolism, whose expression was modified by εPKC. These studies, were accompanied by metabolomic analysis, and suggested that increased glucose oxidation may be responsible for the cardioprotective effect of εPKC. However, whether these εPKC-mediated alterations were due to differences in protein expression or phosphorylation was not determined.
Methods and Results
Here, we used an εPKC-specific activator peptide, ψεRACK, in combination with phosphoproteomics to identify εPKC targets, and identified proteins whose phosphorylation was altered by selective activation of εPKC most of the identified proteins were mitochondrial proteins and analysis of the mitochondrial phosphoproteome, led to the identification of 55 spots, corresponding to 37 individual proteins, which were exclusively phosphorylated, in the presence of ψεRACK. The majority of the proteins identified were proteins involved in glucose and lipid metabolism, components of the respiratory chain as well as mitochondrial heat shock proteins.
In summary the protective effect of εPKC during ischemia involves phosphorylation of several mitochondrial proteins involved in glucose, lipid metabolism and oxidative phosphorylation. Regulation of these metabolic pathways by εPKC phosphorylation may lead to εPKC-mediated cardioprotection induced by ψεRACK.
PMCID: PMC3527096  PMID: 22453000
εPKC; ischemia; phosphorylation; mitochondria
4.  εPKC phosphorylates the mitochondrial KATP+ channel during induction of ischemic preconditioning in the rat hippocampus 
Brain research  2007;1184:345-353.
Neuroprotection against cerebral ischemia conferred by ischemic preconditioning (IPC) requires translocation of epsilon protein kinase C (εPKC). A major goal in our laboratory is to define the cellular targets by which εPKC confers protection. We tested the hypothesis that εPKC targets the mitochondrial KATP+ channel ( mtKATP+) after IPC. Our results demonstrated a rapid translocation of εPKC to rat hippocampal mitochondria after IPC. Because in other tissues εPKC targets mtKATP+ channels, but its presence in brain mitochondria is controversial, we determined the presence of the KATP+ channel-specific subunits (Kir6.1 and Kir6.2) in mitochondria isolated from rat hippocampus. Next, we determined whether mtKATP+ channels play a role in the IPC induction. In hippocampal organotypic slice cultures, IPC and lethal ischemia were induced by oxygen-glucose deprivation. Subsequent cell death in the CA1 region was quantified using propidium iodide staining. Treatment with the KATP+ channel openers diazoxide or pinacidil 48 h prior to lethal ischemia protected hippocampal CA1 neurons, mimicking the induction of neuroprotection conferred by either IPC or εPKC agonist-induced preconditioning. Blockade of mtKATP+ channels using 5-hydroxydecanoic acid abolished the neuroprotection due to either IPC or εPKC preconditioning. Both ischemic andεPKC agonist-mediated preconditioning resulted in phosphorylation of the mtKATP+ channel subunit Kir6.2. After IPC, selective inhibition of εPKC activation prevented Kir6.2 phosphorylation, consistent with Kir6.2 as a phosphorylation target of εPKC or its downstream effectors. Our results support the hypothesis that the brain mtKATP+ channel is an important target of IPC and the signal transduction pathways initiated by εPKC.
PMCID: PMC2577914  PMID: 17988655
ischemic tolerance; diazoxide; protein kinase C; organotypic slice culture; cell death; signal transduction
5.  GABA synapses mediate neuroprotection after ischemic and εPKC preconditioning in rat hippocampal slice cultures 
Delayed neuroprotection against ischemic challenges is conferred by both ischemic preconditioning (IPC) and preconditioning by activation of the ε-isoform of protein kinase C (εPKC-PC). In vivo, ischemic preconditioning enhances GABA release and ameliorates glutamate release during lethal cerebral ischemia. We tested the hypothesis that IPC and εPKC-PC confer neuroprotection by GABA synapses in rat organotypic hippocampal slices. Ischemic preconditioning or εPKC-PC was induced with 15 mins oxygen-glucose deprivation (OGD) or ψεRACK, a selective εPKC activator; and test ischemia consisted of 40 mins OGD. At the time of peak neuroprotection (48 h after preconditioning), we recorded GABAA receptor-mediated miniature postsynaptic currents (GABA mPSCs) in vulnerable CA1 pyramidal neurons using whole-cell voltage clamp techniques. The frequency and amplitude of GABA mPSCs significantly increased 48 h after IPC. In contrast, εPKC-PC enhanced only the amplitude of GABA mPSCs with no effect on frequency. We next asked if neuroprotection depended on these changes in GABA synapses. Weak antagonism of the GABAA receptor with bicuculline (100 nmol/L) decreased the amplitude of GABA mPSCs by 20.9 ± 6.1%. When applied during test ischemia, 100 nmol/L bicuculline abolished neuroprotection conferred by either IPC or εPKC-PC. We conclude that neuroprotection conferred by preconditioning depends on functional modifications of GABA synapses.
PMCID: PMC2696173  PMID: 18957990
εPKC; inhibition; ischemia; ischemic tolerance; organotypic slice
6.  Ischemic Preconditioning Targets the Respiration of Synaptic Mitochondria via Protein Kinase Cε 
In the brain, ischemic preconditioning (IPC) diminishes mitochondrial dysfunction after ischemia and confers neuroprotection. Activation of ε protein kinase C (εPKC) has been proposed to be a key neuroprotective pathway during IPC. We tested the hypothesis that IPC increases the levels of εPKC in synaptosomes from rat hippocampus, resulting in improved synaptic mitochondrial respiration. Preconditioning significantly increased the level of hippocampal synaptosomal εPKC to 152% of sham-operated animals at 2 d of reperfusion, the time of peak neuroprotection. We tested the effect of εPKC activation on hippocampal synaptic mitochondrial respiration 2 d after preconditioning. Treatment with the specific εPKC activating peptide, tat-ψεRACK (tat-ψε-receptor for activated C kinase), increased the rate of oxygen consumption in the presence of substrates for complexes I, II, and IV to 157, 153, and 131% of control (tat peptide alone). In parallel, we found that εPKC activation in synaptosomes from preconditioned animals resulted in altered levels of phosphorylated mitochondrial respiratory chain proteins: increased serine and tyrosine phosphorylation of 18 kDa subunit of complex I, decreased serine phosphorylation of FeS protein in complex III, increased threonine phosphorylation of COX IV (cytochrome oxidase IV), increased mitochondrial membrane potential, and decreased H2O2 production. In brief, ischemic preconditioning promoted significant increases in the level of synaptosomal εPKC. Activation of εPKC increased synaptosomal mitochondrial respiration and phosphorylation of mitochondrial respiratory chain proteins. We propose that, at 48 h of reperfusion after ischemic preconditioning, εPKC is poised at synaptic mitochondria to respond to ischemia either by direct phosphorylation or activation of the εPKC signaling pathway.
PMCID: PMC2678917  PMID: 18417696
cerebral ischemia; phosphorylation; electron transport chain; neuroprotection; cell death; hippocampus
7.  Dopamine and Ethanol Cause Translocation of εPKC Associated with εRACK: Cross-talk Between PKA and PKC Signaling Pathways 
Molecular pharmacology  2008;73(4):1105-1112.
Previously we found that neural responses to ethanol and the dopamine D2 receptor (D2) agonist NPA involve both epsilon protein kinase C (εPKC) and cAMP-dependent protein kinase A (PKA). However, little is known about the mechanism underlying ethanol- and D2-mediated activation of εPKC and the relationship to PKA activation. In the present study, we used a new εPKC antibody, 14E6, that selectively recognizes active εPKC when not bound to its anchoring protein εRACK (receptor for activated C-kinase), and PKC isozyme-selective inhibitors and activators, to measure PKC translocation and catalytic activity. We show here that ethanol and NPA activated εPKC and also induced translocation of both εPKC and its anchoring protein, εRACK to a new cytosolic site. The selective εPKC agonist, pseudo-εRACK, activated εPKC but did not cause translocation of the εPKC/εRACK complex to the cytosol. These data suggest a step-wise activation and translocation of εPKC following NPA or ethanol treatment where εPKC first translocates and binds to its RACK and subsequently the εPKC/εRACK complex translocates to a new subcellular site. Direct activation of PKA by Sp-cAMPS, PGE1 or the adenosine A2A receptor is sufficient to cause εPKC translocation to the cytosolic compartment in a process that is dependent on PLC activation and requires PKA activity. These data demonstrate a novel cross-talk mechanism between εPKC and PKA signaling systems. PKA and PKC signaling have been implicated in alcohol rewarding properties in the mesolimbic dopamine system. Cross-talk between PKA and PKC may underlie some of the behaviors associated with alcoholism.
PMCID: PMC2692587  PMID: 18202306
8.  Differential Effects of Delta and Epsilon Protein Kinase C in Modulation of Postischemic Cerebral Blood Flow 
Cerebral ischemia causes cerebral blood flow (CBF) derangements resulting in neuronal damage by enhanced protein kinase C delta (δPKC) levels leading to hippocampal and cortical neuronal death after ischemia. Contrarily, activation of εPKC mediates ischemic tolerance by decreasing vascular tone providing neuroprotection. However, whether part of this protection is due to the role of differential isozymes of PKCs on CBF following cerebral ischemia remains poorly understood. Rats pretreated with a δPKC specific inhibitor (δV1-1, 0.5 mg/kg) exhibited attenuation of hyperemia and latent hypoperfusion characterized by vasoconstriction followed by vasodilation of microvessels after two-vessel occlusion plus hypotension. In an asphyxial cardiac arrest (ACA) model, rats treated with δ V1-1 (pre- and postischemia) exhibited improved perfusion after 24 h and less hippocampal CA1 and cortical neuronal death 7 days after ACA. On the contrary, εPKC-selective peptide activator, conferred neuroprotection in the CA1 region of the rat hippocampus 30 min before induction of global cerebral ischemia and decreased regional CBF during the reperfusion phase. These opposing effects of δ v. εPKC suggest a possible therapeutic potential by modulating CBF preventing neuronal damage after cerebral ischemia.
PMCID: PMC4086166  PMID: 22259083
9.  Nociceptive-induced Myocardial Remote Conditioning Is Mediated By Neuronal Gamma Protein Kinase C 
Basic research in cardiology  2013;108(5):10.1007/s00395-013-0381-x.
Deciphering the remote conditioning molecular mechanism may provide targets to develop therapeutics that can broaden the clinical application. To further investigate this, we tested whether two protein kinase C isozymes, the ubiquitously expressed epsilon PKC (εPKC) and the neuronal specific gamma PKC (γPKC), mediate nociceptive-induced remote myocardial conditioning.
Male Sprague-Dawley rats were used for both in vivo and ex vivo myocardial ischemia-reperfusion protocols. For the in vivo studies, using a surgical abdominal incision for comparison, applying only to the abdomen either bradykinin or the εPKC activator (ψεRACK) reduced myocardial infarct size (45±1%, 44±2%, respectively, versus incision: 43±2%, and control: 63±2%, P < 0.001). Western blot showed only εPKC, and not γPKC, is highly expressed in the myocardium. However, applying a selective γPKC inhibitor (γV5-3) to the abdominal skin blocked remote protection by any of these strategies.
Using an ex vivo isolated heart model without an intact nervous system, only selective εPKC activation, unlike a selective classical PKC isozyme activator (activating α, β, βII and γ), reduced myocardial injury. Importantly, the classical PKC isozyme activator given to the abdomen in vivo (with an intact nervous system including γPKC) during myocardial ischemia reduced infarct size as effectively as an abdominal incision or ψεRACK (45±1% versus 45±2% and 47±1%, respectively). The classical PKC activator-induced protection was also blocked by spinal cord surgical transection.
These findings identified potential remote conditioning mimetics, with these strategies effective even during myocardial ischemia. A novel mechanism of nociceptive-induced remote conditioning, involving γPKC, was also identified.
PMCID: PMC3856950  PMID: 23982492
infarct size; remote; incision; protein kinase C; gamma; epsilon
10.  Ischemic Preconditioning Mediates Cyclooxygenase-2 Expression Via Nuclear Factor-Kappa B Activation in Mixed Cortical Neuronal Cultures 
Translational stroke research  2010;1(1):40-47.
Nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-κB) activation occurs following ischemic preconditioning (IPC) in brain. However, the upstream signaling messengers and down-stream targets of NF-κB required for induction of IPC remain undefined. In a previous study, we demonstrated that epsilon protein kinase c (εPKC) was a key mediator of IPC in brain. Activation of εPKC induced cyclooygenase-2 (COX-2) expression and conferred ischemic tolerance in the neuronal and hippocampal slice models. Here, we hypothesized that IPC-mediated COX-2 expression was mediated by NF-κB. We tested this hypothesis in mixed cortical neuron/astrocyte cell cultures. To simulate IPC or ischemia, cell cultures were exposed to 1 or 4 h of oxygen–glucose deprivation, respectively. Our results demonstrated translocation of p65 and p50 subunits of NF-κB into nucleus following IPC or εPKC activation. NF-κB inhibition with pyrrolidine dithiocarbamate (10 μM) abolished IPC or εPKC activator-mediated neuroprotection indicating that NF-κB activation was involved in ischemic tolerance. In parallel studies, inhibition of either εPKC or the extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK 1/2) pathway reduced IPC-induced NF-κB activation. Finally, inhibition of NF-κB blocked IPC-induced COX-2 expression. In conclusion, we demonstrated that IPC-signaling cascade comprises εPKC activation→ERK1/2 activation→NF-κB translocation to nucleus→COX-2 expression resulting in neuroprotection in mixed neuronal culture.
PMCID: PMC2893355  PMID: 20606709
Cerebral ischemia; Ischemic tolerance; Epsilon protein kinase C; Extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK1/2); Neuroprotection; Mixed cortical neuron/astrocyte cell cultures
11.  Ischemic Preconditioning VIA Epsilon PKC Activation Requires Cyclooxygenase-2 Activation in Vitro 
Neuroscience  2007;145(3):931-941.
The signaling pathway of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) induction following ischemic preconditioning (IPC) in brain remains undefined. To determine role of COX-2 in ischemic preconditioning, we used two in vitro models: mixed cortical neuron/astrocyte cell cultures and organotypic hippocampal slice cultures. We simulated IPC by exposing cell or slice cultures to 1 h or 15 min of oxygen/glucose deprivation (OGD), respectively, 48 h prior to ischemia. To mimic ischemia in vitro, we exposed cell or slice cultures to OGD of 4 h or 45 min, respectively. In cell cultures, these experiments revealed that COX-2 induction peaked at 24 h following IPC in cell culture. Inhibition of COX-2 activation with 50 μM NS-398 (a COX-2 selective inhibitor) abolished IPC-mediated neuroprotection in both in vitro models. Next, we tested whether εPKC and ERK1/2 activation were involved in IPC-mediated neuroprotection and COX-2 expression in cell culture. Cell cultures were treated with an εPKC-specific activating peptide (ψεRACK, 100 nM) for 1 h, and 48 h later were exposed to OGD. εPKC activation increased ERK1/2 phosphorylation and COX-2 induction and conferred neuroprotection similar to IPC. Additionally, inhibition of either εPKC or ERK1/2 activation abolished COX-2 expression and neuroprotection due to ischemic preconditioning. These results demonstrate a crucial role for the εPKC → ERK1/2 → COX-2 pathway in the induction of neuroprotection via ischemic preconditioning.
PMCID: PMC2153455  PMID: 17307294
Neuroprotection; ERK1/2; mixed cortical neuron/astrocyte cell cultures; organotypic hippocampal slice cultures; ischemia; oxygen/glucose deprivation
12.  δPKC inhibition or εPKC activation repairs endothelial vascular dysfunction by regulating eNOS post-translational modification 
The balance between endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS)-derived nitric oxide (NO) and reactive oxygen species (ROS) production determines endothelial-mediated vascular homeostasis. Activation of protein kinase C (PKC) has been linked to imbalance of the eNOS/ROS system, which leads to endothelial dysfunction. We previously found that selective inhibition of delta PKC (δPKC) or selective activation of epsilon PKC (εPKC) reduces oxidative damage in the heart following myocardial infarction. In this study we determined the effect of these PKC isozymes in the survival of coronary endothelial cells (CVEC). We demonstrate here that serum deprivation of CVEC increased eNOS-mediated ROS levels, activated caspase-3, reduced Akt phosphorylation and cell number. Treatment with either the δPKC inhibitor, δV1-1, or the εPKC activator, ψεRACK, inhibited these effects, restoring cell survival through inhibition of eNOS activity. The decrease in eNOS activity coincided with specific de-phosphorylation of eNOS at Ser1179, and eNOS phosphorylation at Thr497 and Ser116. Furthermore, δV1-1 or ψεRACK induced physical association of eNOS with caveolin-1, an additional marker of eNOS inhibition, and restored Akt activation by inhibiting its nitration. Together our data demonstrate that 1) in endothelial dysfunction, ROS and reactive nitrogen species (RNS) formation result from uncontrolled eNOS activity mediated by activation of δPKC or inhibition of εPKC 2) inhibition of δPKC or activation of εePKC correct the perturbed phosphorylation state of eNOS, thus increasing cell survival. Since endothelial health ensures better tissue perfusion and oxygenation, treatment with a δPKC inhibitor and/or an εPKC activator in diseases of endothelial dysfunction should be considered.
PMCID: PMC3760592  PMID: 19913548
13.  Protein kinase C epsilon activation delays neuronal depolarization during cardiac arrest in the euthermic arctic ground squirrel 
Journal of neurochemistry  2009;110(4):1170-1179.
During the pre-hibernation season, arctic ground squirrels (AGS) can tolerate 8 minutes of asphyxial cardiac arrest (CA) without detectable brain pathology. Better understanding of the mechanisms regulating innate ischemia tolerance in AGS has the potential to facilitate the development of novel, prophylactic agents to induce ischemic tolerance in patients at risk of stroke or cardiac arrest. We hypothesized that neuroprotection in AGS involves robust maintenance of ion homeostasis similar to anoxia-tolerant turtles. Ion homeostasis was assessed by monitoring ischemic depolarization (ID) in cerebral cortex during CA in vivo and during oxygen glucose deprivation in vitro in acutely prepared hippocampal slices. In both models, the onset of ID was significantly delayed in AGS compared to rats. The epsilon protein kinase C (εPKC) is a key mediator of neuroprotection and inhibits both Na+/K+-ATPase and voltage-gated sodium channels, primary mediators of the collapse of ion homeostasis during ischemia. The selective peptide inhibitor of εPKC (εV1–2) shortened the time to ID in brain slices from AGS but not in rats despite evidence that εV1–2 decreased activation of εPKC in brain slices from both rats and AGS. These results support the hypothesis that εPKC activation delays the collapse of ion homeostasis during ischemia in AGS.
PMCID: PMC2774829  PMID: 19493168
brain ischemia; heart arrest; tolerance; neuroprotection
14.  Ischaemic preconditioning improves proteasomal activity and increases the degradation of δPKC during reperfusion 
Cardiovascular Research  2009;85(2):385-394.
The response of the myocardium to an ischaemic insult is regulated by two highly homologous protein kinase C (PKC) isozymes, δ and εPKC. Here, we determined the spatial and temporal relationships between these two isozymes in the context of ischaemia/reperfusion (I/R) and ischaemic preconditioning (IPC) to better understand their roles in cardioprotection.
Methods and results
Using an ex vivo rat model of myocardial infarction, we found that short bouts of ischaemia and reperfusion prior to the prolonged ischaemic event (IPC) diminished δPKC translocation by 3.8-fold and increased εPKC accumulation at mitochondria by 16-fold during reperfusion. In addition, total cellular levels of δPKC decreased by 60 ± 2.7% in response to IPC, whereas the levels of εPKC did not significantly change. Prolonged ischaemia induced a 48 ± 11% decline in the ATP-dependent proteasomal activity and increased the accumulation of misfolded proteins during reperfusion by 192 ± 32%; both of these events were completely prevented by IPC. Pharmacological inhibition of the proteasome or selective inhibition of εPKC during IPC restored δPKC levels at the mitochondria while decreasing εPKC levels, resulting in a loss of IPC-induced protection from I/R. Importantly, increased myocardial injury was the result, in part, of restoring a δPKC-mediated I/R pro-apoptotic phenotype by decreasing pro-survival signalling and increasing cytochrome c release into the cytosol.
Taken together, our findings indicate that IPC prevents I/R injury at reperfusion by protecting ATP-dependent 26S proteasomal function. This decreases the accumulation of the pro-apoptotic kinase, δPKC, at cardiac mitochondria, resulting in the accumulation of the pro-survival kinase, εPKC.
PMCID: PMC2797452  PMID: 19820255
Cardioprotection; Ischaemia/reperfusion; Apoptosis; Proteasome; PKC; Ischaemic preconditioning
15.  Time-dependent and ethanol-induced cardiac protection from ischemia mediated by mitochondrial translocation of εPKC and activation of aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 
The cardioprotective effects of moderate alcohol consumption have been well documented in animal models and in humans. Protection afforded against ischemia and reperfusion injury (I/R) proceeds through an ischemic preconditioning-like mechanism involving the activation of epsilon protein kinase C (εPKC) and is dependent on the time and duration of ethanol treatment. However, the substrates of εPKC and the molecular mechanisms by which the enzyme protects the heart from oxidative damage induced by I/R are not fully described. Using an open-chest model of acute myocardial infarction in vivo, we find that intraperitoneal injection of ethanol (0.5 g/kg) 60 minutes prior to (but not 15 minutes prior to) a 30-minute transient ligation of the left anterior descending coronary artery reduced I/R-mediated injury by 57% (measured as a decrease of creatine phosphokinase release into the blood). Only under cardioprotective conditions, ethanol treatment resulted in the translocation of εPKC to cardiac mitochondria, where the enzyme bound aldehyde dehydrogenase-2 (ALDH2). ALDH2 is an intra-mitochondrial enzyme involved in the detoxification of toxic aldehydes such as 4-hydroxy-2-nonenal (4-HNE) and 4-HNE mediates oxidative damage, at least in part, by covalently modifying and inactivating proteins (by forming 4-HNE adducts). In hearts subjected to I/R after ethanol treatment, the levels of 4-HNE protein adducts were lower and JNK1/2 and ERK1/2 activities were diminished relative to the hearts from rats subjected to I/R in the absence of ethanol. Together, this work provides an insight into the mitochondrial-dependent basis of ethanol-induced and εPKC-mediated protection from cardiac ischemia, in vivo.
PMCID: PMC2675554  PMID: 18983847
16.  Preconditioning mediated by sublethal oxygen–glucose deprivation-induced cyclooxygenase-2 expression via the signal transducers and activators of transcription 3 phosphorylation 
The signal transducers and activators of transcription (STATs) were found to be essential for cardioprotection. However, their role in preconditioning (PC) neuroprotection remains undefined. Previously, our studies showed that PC mediated a signaling cascade that involves activation of epsilon protein kinase C (εPKC), extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK1/2), and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) pathways. However, the intermediate pathway by which ERK1/2 activates COX-2 was not defined. In this study, we investigated whether the PC-induced signaling pathway requires phosphorylation of STAT isoforms for COX-2 expression. To mimic PC or lethal ischemia, mixed cortical neuron/astrocyte cell cultures were subjected to 1 and/or 4 h of oxygen–glucose deprivation (OGD), respectively. The results indicated serine phosphorylation of STAT3 after PC or εPKC activation. Inhibition of either εPKC or ERK1/2 activation abolished PC-induced serine phosphorylation of STAT3. Additionally, inhibition of STAT3 prevented PC-induced COX-2 expression and neuroprotection against OGD. Therefore, our findings suggest that PC signaling cascade involves STAT3 activation after εPKC and ERK1/2 activation. Finally, we show that STAT3 activation mediates COX-2 expression and ischemic tolerance.
PMCID: PMC2645802  PMID: 18398416
cerebral ischemia; extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK1/2); ischemic tolerance; neuroprotection; phosphorylation; protein kinase C
17.  Rational Design of A Selective Antagonist of ε Protein Kinase C Derived From the Selective Allosteric Agonist, Pseudo-Rack Peptide 
We have previously shown that domains involved in binding of protein kinase C (PKC1) isozymes to their respective anchoring proteins (RACKs2) and short peptides derived from these domains are PKC isozyme-selective antagonists. We also identified PKC isozyme-selective agonists, named ψRACK3 peptides, derived from a sequence within each PKC with high homology to its respective RACK. We noted that all the ψRACK sequences within each PKC isozyme have at least one non-homologous amino acid difference from their corresponding RACK that constitutes a charge change. Based on this information, we have devised here a new approach to design an isozyme-selective PKC antagonist, derived from the ψRACK sequence. We focused on εPKC ψRACK peptide, where the pseudo-εRACK sequence (ψεRACK; HDAPIGYD; corresponding to εPKC85-92) is different in charge from the homologous RACK-derived sequence (NNVALGYD; corresponding to εRACK285-292) in the second amino acid. Here we show that changing the charge of the ψεRACK peptide through a substitution of only one amino acid (aspartate to asparagine) resulted in a peptide with an opposite activity on the same cell function and a substitution for aspartate with an alanine resulted in an inactive peptide. These data support our hypothesis regarding the mechanism by which pseudo-RACK peptide activates PKC in heart cells and suggest that this approach is applicable to other signaling proteins with inducible protein-protein interactions.
PMCID: PMC1978508  PMID: 17337000
PKC (protein kinase C); RACK (receptor for activated C-kinase); ψRACK (pseudo RACK); intramolecular interaction; carrier peptide
18.  The Akt signaling pathway contributes to postconditioning’s protection against stroke; the protection is associated with the MAPK and PKC pathways 
Journal of neurochemistry  2008;105(3):943-955.
We previously reported that ischemic postconditioning with a series of mechanical interruptions of reperfusion reduced infarct volume 2 days after focal ischemia in rats. Here, we extend this data by examining long-term protection and exploring underlying mechanisms involving the Akt, mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and protein kinase C (PKC) signaling pathways. Post-conditioning reduced infarct and improved behavioral function assessed 30 days after stroke. Additionally, postconditioning increased levels of phosphorylated Akt (Ser473) as measured by western blot and Akt activity as measured by an in vitro kinase assay. Inhibiting Akt activity by a phosphoinositide 3-kinase inhibitor, LY294002, enlarged infarct in postconditioned rats. Postconditioning did not affect protein levels of phosphorylated-phosphatase and tensin homologue deleted on chromosome 10 or -phosphoinositide-dependent protein kinase-1 (molecules upstream of Akt) but did inhibit an increase in phosphorylated-glycogen synthase kinase 3β, an Akt effector. In addition, postconditioning blocked β-catenin phosphorylation subsequent to glycogen synthase kinase, but had no effect on total or non-phosphorylated active β-catenin protein levels. Furthermore, postconditioning inhibited increases in the amount of phosphorylated-c-Jun N-terminal kinase and extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 in the MAPK pathway. Finally, postconditioning blocked death-promoting δPKC cleavage and attenuated reduction in phosphorylation of survival-promoting εPKC. In conclusion, our data suggest that postconditioning provides long-term protection against stroke in rats. Additionally, we found that Akt activity contributes to postconditioning’s protection; furthermore, increases in εPKC activity, a survival-promoting pathway, and reductions in MAPK and δPKC activity; two putative death-promoting pathways correlate with postconditioning’s protection.
PMCID: PMC2746404  PMID: 18182053
Akt; cerebral ischemia; mitogen-activated protein kinase; postconditioning; protein kinase C; β-catenin
19.  β2-Adrenergic Receptors Mediate Cardioprotection through Crosstalk with Mitochondrial Cell Death Pathways 
β-adrenergic receptors (β-ARs) modulate cardiotoxicity/cardioprotection through crosstalk with multiple signaling pathways. We have previously shown that β2-ARs are cardioprotective during exposure to oxidative stress induced by doxorubicin (DOX). DOX cardiotoxicity is mediated in part through a Ca2+-dependent opening of the mitochondrial permeability transition (MPT), however the signals linking a cell surface receptor like the β2-AR to regulators of mitochondrial function are not clear. The objective of this study was to assess mechanisms of crosstalk between β2-ARs and mitochondrial cell death pathways.
Methods and Results
DOX administered to WT mice resulted in no acute mortality, however 85% of β2-/- mice died within 30 min. Several pro- and anti-survival pathways were altered. The pro-survival kinase, εPKC, was decreased by 64% in β2-/- after DOX vs WT (p<0.01); the εPKC activator ψεRACK partially rescued these mice (47% reduction in mortality). Activity of the pro-survival kinase Akt decreased by 76% in β2-/- after DOX vs WT (p<0.01). The α1-antagonist prazosin restored Akt activity to normal and also partially reversed the mortality (45%). Deletion of the β2-AR increased rate of Ca2+ release by 75% and peak [Ca2+]i by 20% respectively in isolated cardiomyocytes; the Ca2+ channel blocker verapamil also partially rescued the β2-/- (26%). Mitochondrial architecture was disrupted and complex I and II activities decreased by 40.9% and 34.6% respectively after DOX only in β2-/-. The MPT blocker cyclosporine reduced DOX mortality by 41% and prazosin plus cyclosporine acted synergistically to decrease mortality by 85%.
β2-ARs activate pro-survival kinases and attenuate mitochondrial dysfunction during oxidative stress; absence of β2-ARs enhances cardiotoxicity via negative regulation of survival kinases and enhancement of intracellular Ca2+, thus predisposing the mitochondria to opening of the MPT.
PMCID: PMC3184305  PMID: 21756913
Adrenergic receptors; cardiomyopathy; mitochondria; signal transduction; protein kinases
20.  Direct evidence that protein kinase C plays an essential role in the development of late preconditioning against myocardial stunning in conscious rabbits and that epsilon is the isoform involved. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1998;101(10):2182-2198.
Brief ischemic episodes confer marked protection against myocardial stunning 1-3 d later (late preconditioning [PC] against stunning). The mechanism of this powerful protective effect is poorly understood. Although protein kinase C (PKC) has been implicated in PC against infarction, it is unknown whether it triggers late PC against stunning. In addition, the entire PKC hypothesis of ischemic PC remains controversial, possibly because the effects of PKC inhibitors on PC protection have not been correlated with their effects on PKC activity and/or translocation in vivo. Thus, conscious rabbits underwent a sequence of six 4-min coronary occlusion (O)/4-min reperfusion (R) cycles for three consecutive days (days 1, 2, and 3). In the control group (group I, n = 7), the recovery of systolic wall thickening after the six O/R cycles was markedly improved on days 2 and 3 compared with day 1, indicating the development of late PC against stunning. Administration of the PKC inhibitor chelerythrine at a dose of 5 mg/kg before the first O on day 1 (group II, n = 10) abrogated the late PC effect against stunning, whereas a 10-fold lower dose (0.5 mg/kg; group III, n = 7) did not. Administration of 5 mg/kg of chelerythrine 10 min after the sixth reperfusion on day 1 (group IV, n = 6) failed to block late PC against stunning. When rabbits were given 5 mg/kg of chelerythrine in the absence of O/R (group V, n = 5), the severity of myocardial stunning 24 h later was not modified. Pretreatment with phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (4 microg/kg) on day 1 without ischemia (group VI, n = 11) induced late PC against stunning on day 2 and the magnitude of this effect was equivalent to that observed after ischemic PC. In vehicle-treated rabbits (group VIII, n = 5), the six O/R cycles caused translocation of PKC isoforms epsilon and eta from the cytosolic to the particulate fraction without significant changes in total PKC activity, in the subcellular distribution of total PKC activity, or in the subcellular distribution of the alpha, beta1, beta2, gamma, delta, zeta, iota, lambda, and mu isoforms. The higher dose of chelerythrine (5 mg/kg; group X, n = 5) prevented the translocation of both PKC epsilon and eta induced by ischemic PC, whereas the lower dose (0.5 mg/kg; group XI, n = 5) prevented the translocation of PKC eta but not that of epsilon, indicating that the activation of epsilon is necessary for late PC to occur whereas that of eta is not. To our knowledge, this is the first demonstration that a PKC inhibitor actually prevents the translocation of PKC induced by ischemic PC in vivo, and that this inhibition of PKC translocation results in loss of PC protection. Taken together, the results demonstrate that the mechanism of late PC against myocardial stunning in conscious rabbits involves a PKC-mediated signaling pathway, and implicate epsilon as the specific PKC isoform responsible for the development of this cardioprotective phenomenon.
PMCID: PMC508806  PMID: 9593774
21.  Selective activation of PKC epsilon in mitochondria is neuroprotective in vitro and reduces focal ischemic brain injury in mice 
Journal of neuroscience research  2013;91(6):799-807.
Activation of PKCε confers protection against neuronal ischemia/reperfusion. Since activation of PKCε leads to its translocation to multiple intracellular sites, a mitochondrial-selective PKCε activator was used to test the importance of mitochondrial activation to the neuroprotective effect of PKCε. PKCε can regulate key cytoprotective mitochondrial functions including electron transport chain activity, reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation, mitochondrial permeability transition, and detoxification of reactive aldehydes. We tested the ability of mitochondrial selective activation of PKCε to protect primary brain cell cultures or mice subjected to ischemic stroke. Pre-treatment with either general PKCε activator peptide, ψεRACK, or mitochondrial-selective PKCε activator, ψεHSP90, reduced cell death induced by simulated ischemia/reperfusion in neurons, astrocytes, and mixed neuronal cultures. The protective effects of both ψεRACK and ψεHSP90 were blocked by the PKCε antagonist, εV1–2, indicating protection requires PKCε interaction with its anchoring protein, εRACK. Further supporting a mitochondrial mechanism for PKCε, neuroprotection by ψεHSP90 was associated with a marked delay in mitochondrial membrane depolarization and significantly attenuated ROS generation during ischemia. Importantly, ψεHSP90 reduced infarct size and reduced neurological deficit in C57/BL6 mice subjected to middle cerebral artery occlusion and 24 hours of reperfusion. Thus selective activation of mitochondrial PKCε preserves mitochondrial function in vitro and improves outcome in vivo, suggesting potential therapeutic value clinically when brain ischemia is anticipated, including neurosurgery and cardiac surgery.
PMCID: PMC3905808  PMID: 23426889
mitochondria; astrocytes; acute stroke; cell culture; animal models
22.  PKCε Signalling Activates ERK1/2, and Regulates Aggrecan, ADAMTS5, and miR377 Gene Expression in Human Nucleus Pulposus Cells 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e82045.
The protein kinase C (PKC) signaling, a major regulator of chondrocytic differentiation, has been also implicated in pathological extracellular matrix remodeling, and here we investigate the mechanism of PKCε-dependent regulation of the chondrocytic phenotype in human nucleus pulposus (NP) cells derived from herniated disks. NP cells from each donor were successfully propagated for 25+ culture passages, with remarkable tolerance to repeated freeze-and-thaw cycles throughout long-term culturing. More specifically, after an initial downregulation of COL2A1, a stable chondrocytic phenotype was attested by the levels of mRNA expression for aggrecan, biglycan, fibromodulin, and lumican, while higher expression of SOX-trio and Patched-1 witnessed further differentiation potential. NP cells in culture also exhibited a stable molecular profile of PKC isoforms: throughout patient samples and passages, mRNAs for PKC α, δ, ε, ζ, η, ι, and µ were steadily detected, whereas β, γ, and θ were not. Focusing on the signalling of PKCε, an isoform that may confer protection against degeneration, we found that activation with the PKCε-specific activator small peptide ψεRACK led sequentially to a prolonged activation of ERK1/2, increased abundance of the early gene products ATF, CREB1, and Fos with concurrent silencing of transcription for Ki67, and increases in mRNA expression for aggrecan. More importantly, ψεRACK induced upregulation of hsa-miR-377 expression, coupled to decreases in ADAMTS5 and cleaved aggrecan. Therefore, PKCε activation in late passage NP cells may represent a molecular basis for aggrecan availability, as part of an PKCε/ERK/CREB/AP-1-dependent transcriptional program that includes upregulation of both chondrogenic genes and microRNAs. Moreover, this pathway should be considered as a target for understanding the molecular mechanism of IVD degeneration and for therapeutic restoration of degenerated disks.
PMCID: PMC3842981  PMID: 24312401
23.  A novel PIP2 binding of εPKC and its contribution to the neurite induction ability1 
Journal of Neurochemistry  2007;102(5):1635-1644.
Protein kinase C-ε (εPKC) induces neurite outgrowth in neuroblastoma cells but molecular mechanism of the εPKC-induced neurite outgrowth is not fully understood. Therefore, we investigated the ability of phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate (PIP2) binding of εPKC and its correlation with the neurite extension. We found that full length εPKC bound to PIP2 in a 12-ο-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate dependent manner, while the regulatory domain of εPKC (εRD) bound to PIP2 without any stimulation. To identify the PIP2 binding region, we made mutants lacking several regions from εRD, and examined their PIP2 binding activity. The mutants lacking variable region 1 (V1) bound to PIP2 stronger than intact εRD, while the mutants lacking pseudo-substrate or common region 1 (C1) lost the binding. The PIP2 binding ability of the V3-deleted mutant was weakened. Those PIP2 bindings of εPKC, εRD and the mutants well correlated to their neurite induction ability. In addition, a chimera of pleckstrin homology domain of phospholipase Cδ and the V3 region of εPKC revealed that PIP2 binding domain and the V3 region are sufficient for the neurite induction, and a first 16 amino acids in the V3 region was important for neurite extension. In conclusion, εPKC directly binds to PIP2 mainly through pseudo-substrate and common region 1, contributing to the neurite induction activity.
PMCID: PMC2156110  PMID: 17697049
actin; neurite outgrowth; neuroblastoma; phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate; protein kinase C
24.  Activation of Protein Kinase C Delta following Cerebral Ischemia Leads to Release of Cytochrome C from the Mitochondria via Bad Pathway 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(7):e22057.
The release of cytochrome c from the mitochondria following cerebral ischemia is a key event leading to cell death. The goal of the present study was to determine the mechanisms involved in post-ischemic activation of protein kinase c delta (δPKC) that lead to cytochrome c release.
We used a rat model of cardiac arrest as an in vivo model, and an in vitro analog, oxygen glucose deprivation (OGD) in rat hippocampal synaptosomes. Cardiac arrest triggered translocation of δPKC to the mitochondrial fraction at 1 h reperfusion. In synaptosomes, the peptide inhibitor of δPKC blocked OGD-induced translocation to the mitochondria. We tested two potential pathways by which δPKC activation could lead to cytochrome c release: phosphorylation of phospholipid scramblase-3 (PLSCR3) and/or protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A). Cardiac arrest increased levels of phosphorlyated PLSCR3; however, inhibition of δPKC translocation failed to affect the OGD-induced increase in PLSCR3 in synaptosomal mitochondria suggesting the post-ischemic phosphorylation of PLSCR3 is not mediated by δPKC. Inhibition of either δPKC or PP2A decreased cytochrome c release from synaptosomal mitochondria. Cardiac arrest results in the dephosphorylation of Bad and Bax, both downstream targets of PP2A promoting apoptosis. Inhibition of δPKC or PP2A prevented OGD-induced Bad, but not Bax, dephosphorylation. To complement these studies, we used proteomics to identify novel mitochondrial substrates of δPKC.
We conclude that δPKC initiates cytochrome c release via phosphorylation of PP2A and subsequent dephosphorylation of Bad and identified δPKC, PP2A and additional mitochondrial proteins as potential therapeutic targets for ischemic neuroprotection.
PMCID: PMC3137627  PMID: 21789211
25.  δPKC mediates microcerebrovascular dysfunction in acute ischemia and in chronic hypertensive stress in vivo 
Brain research  2007;1144:146-155.
Maintaining cerebrovascular function is a priority for reducing damage following acute ischemic events such as stroke, and under chronic stress in diseases such as hypertension. Ischemic episodes lead to endothelial cell damage, deleterious inflammatory responses, and altered neuronal and astrocyte regulation of vascular function. These, in turn, can lead to impaired cerebral blood flow and compromised blood–brain barrier function, promoting microvascular collapse, edema, hemorrhagic transformation, and worsened neurological recovery. Multiple studies demonstrate that protein kinase C (PKC), a widely expressed serine/threonine kinase, is involved in mediating arterial tone and microvascular function. However, there is no clear understanding about the role of individual PKC isozymes. We show that intraperitoneal injection of δV1-1–TAT47–57 (0.2 mg/kg in 1 mL), an isozymespecific peptide inhibitor of δPKC, improved microvascular pathology, increased the number of patent microvessels by 92% compared to control-treated animals, and increased cerebral blood flow by 26% following acute focal ischemia induced by middle cerebral artery occlusion in normotensive rats. In addition, acute delivery of δV1-1–TAT47–57 in hypertensive Dahl rats increased cerebral blood flow by 12%, and sustained delivery δV1-1–TAT47–57 (5 uL/h, 1 mM), reduced infarct size by 25% following an acute stroke induced by MCA occlusion for 90 min. Together, these findings demonstrate that δPKC is an important therapeutic target for protection of microvascular structure and function under both acute and chronic conditions of cerebrovascular stress.
PMCID: PMC3742377  PMID: 17350602
Cerebral blood flow; Hypertension; Microvasculature; Protein kinase C; Stroke; Vasculature

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