Long-term administration of lithium is one of the well-known causes of goiter. It can stimulate DNA synthesis in rat thyroid cells (FRTL-5) treated with thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). To investigate the mitogenic signal transduction system activated by lithium, lithium-induced DNA synthesis and Ca2+ influx were studied using two protein kinase inhibitors, genistein as a specific tyrosine kinase inhibitor and staurosporine as a potent inhibitor of protein kinase C.
Genistein but not staurosporine blocked the DNA synthesis induced by lithium in TSH-primed cells but neither compound had any effect on the Ca2+ entry stimulated by lithium. Genistein clearly attenuated the phosphotyrosine content of the 175 kDa substrate in the presence of lithium but staurosporine failed to do so. Moreover, lithium could also stimulate DNA synthesis in protein kinase C down-regulated cells.
These data demonstrate that lithium may require the activation of a particular genistein-sensitive kinase, possibly a tyrosine kinase, to induce cell proliferation. It is suggested that the phorbol ester-sensitive protein kinase C family might not participate in the mitogenic signal transduction pathway activated by lithium.
Journal of Endocrinology (1994) 143, 221–226