Background: Activation of protein kinase C (PKC), a family of serine-threonine kinases widely implicated in cancer progression, has major impact on gene expression. In a recent genome-wide analysis of prostate cancer cells we identified distinctive gene expression profiles controlled by individual PKC isozymes and highlighted a prominent role for PKCδ in transcriptional activation.
Principal findings: Here we carried out a thorough bioinformatics analysis to dissect transcriptional networks controlled by PKCα, PKCδ, and PKCε, the main diacylglycerol/phorbol ester PKCs expressed in prostate cancer cells. Despite the remarkable differences in the patterns of transcriptional responsive elements (REs) regulated by each PKC, we found that c-Rel represents the most frequent RE in promoters regulated by all three PKCs. In addition, promoters of PKCδ-regulated genes were particularly enriched with REs for CREB, NF-E2, RREB, SRF, Oct-1, Evi-1, and NF-κB. Most notably, by using transcription factor-specific RNAi we were able to identify subsets of PKCδ-regulated genes modulated by c-Rel and CREB. Furthermore, PKCδ-regulated genes condensed under the c-Rel transcriptional regulation display significant functional interconnections with biological processes such as angiogenesis, inflammatory response, and cell motility.
Conclusion/significance: Our study identified candidate transcription factors in the promoters of PKC regulated genes, in particular c-Rel was found as a key transcription factor in the control of PKCδ-regulated genes. The deconvolution of PKC-regulated transcriptional networks and their nodes may greatly help in the identification of PKC effectors and have significant therapeutics implications.