ATP-competitive inhibitors of PKC (protein kinase C) such as the bisindolylmaleimide GF 109203X, which interact with the ATP-binding site in the PKC molecule, have also been shown to affect several redistribution events of PKC. However, the reason why these inhibitors affect the redistribution is still controversial. In the present study, using immunoblot analysis and GFP (green fluorescent protein)-tagged PKC, we showed that, at commonly used concentrations, these ATP-competitive inhibitors alone induced redistribution of DAG (diacylglycerol)-sensitive PKCα, PKCβII, PKCδ and PKCϵ, but not atypical PKCζ, to the endomembrane or the plasma membrane. Studies with deletion and point mutants showed that the DAG-sensitive C1 domain of PKC was required for membrane redistribution by these inhibitors. Furthermore, membrane redistribution was prevented by the aminosteroid PLC (phospholipase C) inhibitor U-73122, although an ATP-competitive inhibitor had no significant effect on acute DAG generation. Immunoblot analysis showed that an ATP-competitive inhibitor enhanced cell-permeable DAG analogue- or phorbol-ester-induced translocation of endogenous PKC. Furthermore, these inhibitors also enhanced [3H]phorbol 12,13-dibutyrate binding to the cytosolic fractions from PKCα–GFP-overexpressing cells. These results clearly demonstrate that ATP-competitive inhibitors cause redistribution of DAG-sensitive PKCs to membranes containing endogenous DAG by altering the DAG sensitivity of PKC and support the idea that the inhibitors destabilize the closed conformation of PKC and make the C1 domain accessible to DAG. Most importantly, our findings provide novel insights for the interpretation of studies using ATP-competitive inhibitors, and, especially, suggest caution about the interpretation of the relationship between the redistribution and kinase activity of PKC.

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