We previously reported that the K562 cell line K562YO expressed a high level of the c-kit gene. In this study, we analyzed the mechanism of this expression and investigated the effects of the serine/threonine kinases such as protein kinase C (PKC) and cyclic adenosine 3′,53′ monophosphate (cAMP)-dependent kinase (PKA) on it. The half-life of the c-kit mRNA in K562YO cells was greater than 10 hours, compared with 2 hours in the original K562 cells, which expressed a very low level of c- kit mRNA. This prolonged half-life can contribute to the high level of c-kit expression in K562YO cells. Cycloheximide (CHX), a protein synthesis inhibitor, caused increases in c-kit mRNA levels in K562YO cells. 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA), by which PKC was activated at first and downregulated in a late phase, gradually decreased c-kit mRNA in K562YO cells until 9 hours and then returned to the control level 24 hours after treatment. TPA also rapidly decreased c-kit protein level on the membranes. In whole cells, c-kit protein was also decreased 6 hours after incubation with TPA. Calphostin C, a light- dependent PKC inhibitor, decreased c-kit mRNA levels within 30 minutes in a light-dependent manner. It also decreased c-kit protein in whole cells 2 hours after the addition. However, it increased the amount of c- kit protein on the cell surfaces. Dibutyryl cyclic AMP (dbc-AMP) increased c-kit mRNA as well as c-kit protein on membranes and in whole cells. Run-on transcriptional assay suggested that the agent (dbc-AMP) enhanced the transcription rate of the gene. These results suggest that c-kit protein on the membranes is downregulated by PKC activation and upregulated by PKC inhibition. In the whole cell lysate, c-kit proteins are decreased by PKC inhibition through downregulation of mRNA. On the other hand, the elevation of an intracellular cAMP level causes upregulation of both the mRNA and c-kit protein on membranes and in whole cells through enhanced transcription. Thus, c-kit gene expression is apparently modulated by PKC and PKA.

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