• PC-12;
  • Bcl-2;
  • Protein kinase C;
  • Phorbol ester;
  • Cell death;
  • Apoptosis;
  • 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate


The aim of the present study was to investigate the involvement of PKC in Bcl-2 protection against serum withdrawal-induced apoptosis in PC-12 cells. Human Bcl-2 was overexpressed in PC-12 cells and was found to totally inhibit serum withdrawal-induced apoptosis. 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA) could induce cell death in PC-12 cells that overexpressed Bcl-2, implicating protein kinase C (PKC) in Bcl-2 protection. However, TPA-induced cell death did not involve caspase-3 activation or DNA degradation, suggesting that Bcl-2 was still inhibiting these processes and that TPA was mediating cell death either downstream of Bcl-2 or via independent signalling pathways. High cytosolic and particulate protein levels of PKC δ were correlated with TPA-induced cell death suggesting that PKC δ positively regulated this cell death. However, substantial down-regulation of PKC by prolonged exposure to TPA did not reduce the frequency of TPA-induced cell death, raising the possibility that PKC δ did not regulate cell death alone. Surprisingly, TPA-induced cell death was dependent on the time at which cells were treated, suggesting that cells were changing with time. Supporting this idea, the cytosolic and particulate protein levels of PKC δ and ∍ were found to change with time, and may account for the time-dependent manner in which TPA induced cell death. This is the first report to show that sensitivity to drug induced cell death in a cultured cell line changes with time. Experimental and theoretical evidence suggests that many cellular constituents exhibit temporal variations, oscillations or rhythms due to feedback regulation. We believe that investigation of these temporal changes, how they alter cell function with time and how they might be manipulated in single cells as well as across cellular populations is paramount in furthering our understanding of cellular behaviour.