Multifunctional roles of PKCδ: Opportunities for targeted therapy in human disease

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The serine–threonine protein kinase, protein kinase C-δ (PKCδ), is emerging as a bi-functional regulator of cell death and proliferation. Studies in PKCδ −/− mice have confirmed a pro-apoptotic role for this kinase in response to DNA damage and a tumor promoter role in some oncogenic contexts. In non-transformed cells, inhibition of PKCδ suppresses the release of cytochrome c and caspase activation, indicating a function upstream of apoptotic pathways. Data from PKCδ −/− mice demonstrate a role for PKCδ in the execution of DNA damage-induced and physiologic apoptosis. This has led to the important finding that inhibitors of PKCδ can be used therapeutically to reduce irradiation and chemotherapy-induced toxicity. By contrast, PKCδ is a tumor promoter in mouse models of mammary gland and lung cancer, and increased PKCδ expression is a negative prognostic indicator in Her2 + and other subtypes of human breast cancer. Understanding how these distinct functions of PKCδ are regulated is critical for the design of therapeutics to target this pathway. This review will discuss what is currently known about biological roles of PKCδ and prospects for targeting PKCδ in human disease.

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