Protein kinase C-dependent upregulation of N-cadherin expression by phorbol ester in human calvaria osteoblasts.
ABSTRACT Cell-cell adhesion mediated by cadherins is believed to play an essential role in the control of cell differentiation and tissue formation. Our recent studies indicate that N-cadherin is involved in human osteoblast differentiation. However, the signalling molecules that regulate cadherins in osteoblasts are not known. We tested the possibility that N-cadherin expression and function may be regulated by direct activation of protein kinase C (PKC) in human osteoblasts. Treatment of immortalized human neonatal calvaria (IHNC) cells with phorbol 12,13-dibutyrate (100 nM) transiently increased PKC activity. RT-PCR analysis showed that transient treatment with phorbol ester transiently increased N-cadherin mRNA levels at 4-12 h. Western blot analysis showed that N-cadherin protein levels were increased by phorbol ester at 24-48 h, and this was confirmed by immunocytochemical analysis. In contrast, E-cadherin expression was not affected. Transient treatment of IHNC cells with phorbol ester increased cell-cell aggregation, which was suppressed by neutralizing N-cadherin antibody, showing that the increased N-cadherin induced by phorbol ester was functional. Finally, phorbol ester dose-dependently increased alkaline phosphatase activity, an early marker of osteoblast differentiation. This effect was comparable to the promoting effect of BMP-2, a potent activator of osteoblast differentiation. These data show that direct activation of PKC by phorbol ester increases N-cadherin expression and function, and promotes ALP activity in human calvaria osteoblasts, which provides a signaling mechanism by which N-cadherin is regulated and suggests a role for PKC in N-cadherin-mediated control of human osteoblast differentiation.