Phorbol dibutyrate (PDBu) induced the formation of podosome-like structures together with partial disassembly of actin stress fibers in A7r5 smooth muscle cells. These podosomes contained alpha-actinin, F-actin, and vinculin and exhibit a tubular, column-like structure arising perpendicularly from the bottom of PDBu-treated cells. The conventional protein kinase C (PKC) antagonist, GO6976, inhibited PDBu-induced cytoskeletal remodeling at 0.1 microM, whereas the novel PKC antagonist, rottlerin, was ineffective at 10 microM. PDBu induced the translocation of the conventional PKC-alpha but not the novel PKC-delta to the sites of podosome formation in A7r5 cells. Although partial disassembly of actin stress fibers was observed in both Y-27632- and PDBu-treated cells, focal adhesions were much reduced in number and size only in Y-27632-treated cells. Furthermore, PDBu restored focal adhesions in Y-27632-treated cells. Live video fluorescence microscopy of alpha-actinin GFP revealed a lag phase of about 20 min prior to the rapid formation and dynamic reorganization of podosomes during PDBu treatment. These findings suggest that conventional PKCs mediate PDBu-induced formation of dynamic podosome-like structures in A7r5 cells, and Rho-kinase is unlikely to be the underlying mechanism. The podosome columns could represent molecular scaffolds where PKC-alpha phosphorylates regulatory proteins necessary for Ca(2+) sensitization in smooth muscle cells.