Anti-tumor Pharmacology

Effect of protein kinase C alpha, caspase-3, and survivin on apoptosis of oral cancer cells induced by staurosporine



To elucidate inhibition of protein kinase C α (PKC α) activity by staurosporine on apoptosis of oral cancer cell line tongue squamous cell carcinoma (TSCCa) cells and to clarify the role of survivin and caspase-3 in mediating apoptosis.


TSCCa cell viability was measured by MTT assay after 100 nmol/L staurosporine treatment. Apoptotic cells were identified by using phase contrast microscopy, acridine orange/ethidium bromide staining, and flow cytometry. Level of PKC α and its subcellular location were investigated using Western blot analysis. Expression of survivin and caspase-3 were evaluated using immunocytochemistry.


Staurosporine significantly inhibited the cell viability of TSCCa cells in a dose- and time-dependent manner. Marked cell accumulation in G2/M phase was observed after 100 nmol/L staurosporine exposure for 6 h and 12 h. In addition, the percentage of apoptosis increased in a time-dependent manner, from 2.9% in control cultures to approximately 27.4% at 100 nmol/L staurosporine treatment for 24 h. Staurosporine displayed difference in inhibitory efficacy between cytosolic and membrance-derived PKC α. The content of PKCα in membrane versus cytosol decreased quickly, from 0.45 in ethanol-treated control cultures to 0.18 after staurosporine exposure for 24 h (P<0.01). After treatment with staurosporine, a time-dependent reduction of survivin and an activation of caspase-3 were observed in TSCCa cells.


Staurosporine inhibited cell viability and promoted apoptosis in TSCCa cells. Inhibition of PKCα activity might be a potential mechanism for staurosporine to induce apoptosis in this cell line. The cleavage of survivin and activation of caspase-3 signaling pathway might contribute to PKC α inhibition-induced apoptosis.


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Correspondence to Jing-ping Ou-Yang.

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Project supported in part by Natural Science Foundation of Hubei Province (No 304130550).

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Zhang, Yx., Yu, Sb., Ou-Yang, Jp. et al. Effect of protein kinase C alpha, caspase-3, and survivin on apoptosis of oral cancer cells induced by staurosporine. Acta Pharmacol Sin 26, 1365–1372 (2005).

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  • protein kinase C alpha
  • caspase-3
  • survivin protein
  • apoptosis
  • staurosporine
  • carcinoma
  • squamous cell
  • mouth

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