Promotion of HL-60 cell differentiation by 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 regulation of protein kinase C levels and activity

Pan Quintin, John Granger, Timothy D. O'Connell, Martha J. Somerman, Robert U. Simpson

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35 Scopus citations


The hormone 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 [1,25-(OH)2D3] promotes differentiation of a number of cell types including HL-60 promyelocytic leukemia cells. It is now established that protein kinase Cβ (PKCβ) plays a critical role in HL-60 cell maturation to a monocyte/macrophage phenotype. In the present study, we investigated the importance of PKCβ levels and activation in 1,25-(OH)2D3-mediated differentiation of HL-60 cells. Cell differentiation promoted by 1,25-(OH)2D3 at 48 hr was 39 ± 3% (mean ± SEM) nitroblue tetrazolium (NBT) positive and at 72 hr it was 35 ± 2% NBT positive and 70% CD14 positive. Thus, promotion of cell differentiation by 20 nM 1,25-(OH)2D3 treatment was maximal at 48-72 hr. When PKCβ levels and cell differentiation were assayed at 72 hr, treatment with 20 nM 1,25-(OH)2D3 for the initial 6 hr increased PKCβ levels by 175% but had little effect on cell differentiation (7 ± 2% NBT positive; 11% CD14 positive). The effect of ionomycin, a calcium ionophore, on PKCβ levels and cell differentiation also was examined. Alone, 5 μM ionomycin promoted few cells (3% CD14 positive) to differentiate. In contrast, cells treated with 5 μM ionomycin for 66 hr after a 6-hr pretreatment with 20 nM 1,25-(OH)2D3 resulted in 34 ± 5% NBT positive cells and 73% CD14 positive cells. Quantitatively, this induction of differentiation was identical to that observed in cultures continuously treated with 1,25-(OH)2D3 (35 ± 2% NBT positive; 70% CD14 positive). Therefore, ionomycin seemed re, replace the requirement for the continuous presence of 1,25-(OH)2D3. Chelerythrine chloride (3 μM), a specific PKC inhibitor, blocked differentiation promoted by 1,25-(OH)2D3 alone (82 ± 2% inhibition) or in sequence with ionomycin (86 ± 3% inhibition). Taken together, our data show that the capacity of 1,25-(OH)2D3 to both increase PKCβ levels and activate PKC is utilized to promote HL-60 cell differentiation. These data further suggest that 1,25-(OH)2D3 has a genomic action to increase PKCβ levels and also a nongenomic action requiring its continuous presence to promote HL-60 cell differentiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)909-915
Number of pages7
JournalBiochemical Pharmacology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 15 1997

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health Grant DE I0337.


  • 1,25-Dihydroxyvitamin D
  • Calcium
  • Cell differentiation
  • HL-60 promyelocytic cells
  • Macrophages/monocytes
  • Protein kinase C


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