cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA) is composed of two genetically distinct catalytic (C) and regulatory (R) subunits. There are two different classes of PKA, designated as type I and type II, which contain distinct R subunits (RI or RII, respectively) but share a common C subunit. Enhanced expression of type I PKA has been correlated with cell proliferation and neoplastic transformation. Detection of the different PKA subunits is usually performed by photoaffinity labeling with 8-N3-32P-cAMP or by radioimmunolabeling techniques. Both techniques are time consuming and require a high number of cells and the use of radioactive reagents. Using the MCF-10A normal human mammary cell line infected with a recombinant retroviral vector containing the human RI alpha gene (MCF-10A RI alpha), we have developed a flow-cytometric assay to detect the intracellular content of RI alpha protein in human cells. MCF-10A and MCF-10A RI alpha cells were fixed in 1.5% paraformaldehyde at 37 degrees C for 15 min and permeabilized by methanol and acetone (1:1) at -20 degrees C for 5 min before staining with a specific IgG2a MoAb followed by a FITC-conjugate rabbit-anti mouse IgG. This procedure was also successfully utilized to recognize RI alpha protein content in human peripheral blood lymphocytes. Flow-cytometric detection of the RI alpha subunit in human cells is feasible and allows the study of the role of type I PKA in cell growth and neoplastic transformation.
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