Author(s): Fu G, Gascoigne NR
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Abstract Protein kinase Cη (PKCη) is a member of the novel PKC subfamily, which also includes δ, ε, and θ isoforms. Compared to the other novel PKCs, the function of PKCη in the immune system is largely unknown. Several studies have started to reveal the role of PKCη, particularly in T cells. PKCη is highly expressed in T cells, and is upregulated during thymocyte positive selection. Interestingly, like the θ isoform, PKCη is also recruited to the immunological synapse that is formed between a T cell and an antigen-presenting cell. However, unlike PKCθ, which becomes concentrated to the central region of the synapse, PKCη remains in a diffuse pattern over the whole area of the synapse, suggesting distinctive roles of these two isoforms in signal transduction. Although PKCη is dispensable for thymocyte development, further analysis of PKCη- or PKCθ-deficient and double-knockout mice revealed the redundancy of these two isoforms in thymocyte development. In contrast, PKCη rather than PKCθ, plays an important role for T cell homeostatic proliferation, which requires recognition of self-antigen. Another piece of evidence demonstrating that PKCη and PKCθ have isoform-specific as well as redundant roles come from the analysis of CD4 to CD8 T cell ratios in the periphery of these knockout mice. Deficiency in PKCη or PKCθ had opposing effects as PKCη knockout mice had a higher ratio of CD4 to CD8 T cells compared to that of wild-type mice, whereas PKCθ-deficient mice had a lower ratio. Biochemical studies showed that calcium flux and NFκB translocation is impaired in PKCη-deficient T cells upon TCR crosslinking stimulation, a character shared with PKCθ-deficient T cells. However, unlike the case with PKCθ, the mechanistic study of PKCη is at early stage and the signaling pathways involving PKCη, at least in T cells, are essentially unknown. In this review, we will cover the topics mentioned above as well as provide some perspectives for further investigations regarding PKCη.
This article was published in Front Immunol
and referenced in Journal of Clinical & Cellular Immunology