To elucidate the role of protein kinase C in vascular smooth muscle cell proliferation, we examined the effects of phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA) on G1 events in human arterial cells. About 15 h after G0 cells were stimulated with fetal bovine serum and basic fibroblast growth factor, [3H]thymidine incorporation started. PMA (10 nM) inhibited the incorporation over 90% when added earlier than 3 h after stimulation, but had no effect when added 12 h or later. PMA inhibited the phosphorylation of the retinoblastoma protein (pRb), which normally began at about 9 h. PMA did not inhibit the gene expression of Cdk2, Cdk3, Cdk4, Cdk5, and cyclins G, C, and D, all of which began at 0-3 h. However, PMA reduced the expression of cyclins E and A, which usually began at 3-9 h and about 15 h, respectively. PMA inhibited the histone H1 kinase activity of Cdk2, which increased from about 9 h, whereas PMA did not inhibit the pRb kinase activities of cyclin D- associated kinase(s) and Cdk4, detectable from 0-3 h. These results suggested that the PMA-induced inhibition of pRb phosphorylation is not mediated by suppressing cyclin D-associated kinase(s) including Cdk4, but involves the suppression of Cdk2 activity that results from the reduced expression of cyclins E and A.
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