Treatment of human myeloid leukemia cells with 1-beta-D- arabinofuranosylcytosine (ara-C) is associated with induction of protein kinase activity and early-response gene expression. The present studies in ara-C-treated U-937 cells extend these findings by demonstrating activation of a protein kinase that phosphorylates myelin basic protein (MBP). Purification by sequential ion-exchange chromatography and gel filtration supports the detection of a 40-kD MBP kinase. Substrate and inhibitor studies further support a pattern similar to that of protein kinase C (PKC) isozymes. Results of N- terminal amino acid sequencing and immunoblot analysis demonstrate detection of a 40-kD catalytic fragment of PKCdelta. The results also demonstrate the activation and cleavage of PKCdelta (1) is inhibited by expression of antiapoptotic proteins, and (2) is induced by camptothecin (CAM) and mitomycin C (MMC). These findings support proteolytic activation of PKCdelta in the cellular response to ara-C and other DNA-damaging agents.

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