- The Hodgkin-Reed-Sternberg (HRS) malignant cells in Hodgkin's lymphoma (HL) originate from germinal center B lymphocytes that did not undergo apoptosis. Protein Kinase C (PKC), a family of serine/threonine kinases, plays a crucial role in signal transduction modulating cell growth, differentiation and apoptosis. Here, we report the expression of PKC isoforms in two HL-derived cell lines, L428 and KMH2 and their correlation with drug resistance to CPT and doxorubicin. Among the PKC isoforms examined, only PKCeta and PKCbetaII were preferentially expressed in the drug resistant L428 cells. We have shown correlation between the response to apoptosis of L428 and KMH2 cells and PKCeta expression in these cell lines. In order to directly demonstrate a role for PKCeta in apoptosis, its expression was knocked-down by siRNA in the resistant L428 cells. Downregulation of PKCeta rendered L428 cells more sensitive to doxorubicin and CPT. Furthermore, PKCeta knocked-down cells showed increased PARP-1 cleavage, cytochrome c release and caspase 7 activation. It appears that PKCeta functions as an anti-apoptotic protein in HL-derived cell lines, and as we show here that it is also expressed in HRS of HL biopsies, it may have therapeutic relevance in HL. Thus, PKCeta could provide a new target aimed to reduce resistance to anti-cancer treatments of HL and other cancer patients.