Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)


Biomedical Sciences

Date of Award

May 1997


To explore the possibility that 1-O-alkyl-sn-glycerol (alkylglycerol) may serve a regulatory role in the control of cell proliferation or PKC activity, we examined the ability of alkylglycerol to influence PKC activity and subcellular distribution as well as the ability of alkylglycerol to effect cell proliferation. MDCK cells grown to confluence show a loss of PKC activity associated with the membrane, as reported in fibroblasts. Preconfluent cultures of MDCK cells have a high level of PKC activity associated with the membrane. However, treatment of preconfluent cultures with alkylglycerol causes a reduction of PKC activity. A similar inhibition was observed with alkylglycerol when cells were treated with TPA, an activator of PKC. To confirm that alkylglycerol was exerting an effect directly on PKC, alkylglycerol was shown to inhibit PKC activity in vitro in a dose dependent manner. Since PKC exists as a family of closely related isozymes, we have determined the effects of growth arrest and alkylglycerol treatment on PKC $\rm\alpha,\ \epsilon,\ and\ \zeta$ (expressed in MDCK cells). The active forms of PKC $\alpha$ and $\epsilon$ are lost early in the growth of MDCK cells during the endogenous accumulation of alkylglycerol and synthetic alkylglycerol inhibits the membrane form of PKC $\alpha$ and $\epsilon.$ However, alkylglycerol inhibits the TPA induced translocation of PKC $\alpha$ but not $\epsilon$ suggesting a differential inhibition among these isoforms. Neither TPA or alkylglycerol had any effects on the distribution of PKC $\zeta.$ To examine the effect of alkylglycerol on cell proliferation, Swiss 3T3 cells were used. GLC analysis shows that 3T3 cells accumulate alkylglycerol in a similar manner as MDCK cells. Since this accumulation occurs just prior to cell growth arrest, the effects of alkylglycerol on preconfluent cells was observed. Preconfluent cultures of 3T3 cells were treated with alkylglycerol on day 1 of growth. After 8 days of culture, the treated group showed a slower growth rate and saturation density. Furthermore, after these cells were reseeded in the absence of alkylglycerol, the original growth rate and saturation density returned. Thus alkylglycerol induces a decrease in cell proliferation without causing any detrimental effects. Similarly, alkylglycerol was found to inhibit the induction of mitogenesis by TPA (a PKC dependent pathway) and these effects were shown not to be stereospecific. To further investigate the effect of alkylglycerol on cell proliferation, the content of the monoglycerides in ras-transformed cells was analyzed. These cells have lost contact dependent growth arrest indicating a disruption of cell growth regulation. We observed a massive increase in the content of alkylglycerol during the culture of ras transformed cells. This increase is 3 fold higher than MDCK or 3T3 cells. This raises the possibility that alkylglycerol may be the end result of an increased number of cell-cell contacts. We have observed an increase in the accumulation of alkylglycerol in normal and ras-transformed cells. This accumulation is accompanied by a decrease in PKC activity and alkylglycerol was shown to be a potent in vitro inhibitor of PKC. Similarly, alkylglycerol was shown to inhibit PKC $\alpha$ under stimulation by TPA. Alkylgylcerol is a inhibitor of the TPA induced induction of mitogenesis and slows the growth rate of proliferating cultures of 3T3 cells. These results indicate that the endogenous ether-linked glycerolipid, alkylglycerol, is a regulator of cell proliferation through its inhibitory effects on protein kinase C. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)

Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access