Short- and long-term ethanol exposures have been shown to alter cellular levels of cAMP, but little is known about the effects of ethanol on cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA). When cAMP levels increase, the catalytic subunit of PKA (C alpha) is released from the regulatory subunit, phosphorylates nearby proteins, and then translocates to the nucleus, where it regulates gene expression. Altered localization of C alpha would have profound effects on multiple cellular functions. Therefore, we investigated whether ethanol alters intracellular localization of C alpha. NG108-15 cells were incubated in the presence or absence of ethanol for as long as 48 h, and localization of PKA subunits was determined by immunocytochemistry. We found that ethanol exposure produced a significant translocation of C alpha from the Golgi area to the nucleus. C alpha remained in the nucleus as long as ethanol was present. There was no effect of ethanol on localization of the type I regulatory subunit of PKA. Ethanol also caused a 43% decrease in the amount of type I regulatory subunit but had no effect on the amount of C alpha as determined by Western blot. These data suggest that ethanol-induced translocation of C alpha to the nucleus may account, in part, for diverse changes in cellular function and gene expression produced by alcohol
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