- We have used adenoviral vectors to express dominant negative variants of protein kinase C epsilon (PKCepsilon) or mitogen kinase kinase 1 (MKK1) to investigate their involvement in phorbol ester-induced connexin-43 (Cx43) phosphorylation in cardiomyocytes. Stimulation of cardiomyocytes with phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA) increased the fraction of the slower migrating (> or = 45 kDa) and more extensively phosphorylated Cx43 species. Expression of dominant negative MKK1 did not prevent the effect of PMA on Cx43 phosphorylation. Selective inhibition of PKCE significantly decreased baseline levels of Cx43 phosphorylation and the PMA-induced accumulation of > or = 45 kDa Cx43. Thus, production of the more extensively phosphorylated species of Cx43 in cardiomyocytes by PMA requires activation of PKCepsilon.