Phorbol esters, by activating protein kinase C (PKC), induce the expression of the urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) gene and the proto-oncogene c-fos in LLC-PK1 (PK1) porcine kidney epithelial cells. To investigate the role of PKC in the regulation of these two 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA)-inducible genes, the alpha-type PKC, the predominant subtype present in the PK1 cells, was overexpressed in this cell line. Two clonal PK1 derivatives overexpressing the alpha PKC 15- and 20-fold, respectively, were established. Compared with the parental and control cells, only a modest but substantially sustained (2- to 3-fold) increase in the accumulation of uPA as well as c-fos mRNAs were observed by TPA in these cells. These results indicate that the extent of induction of these genes mediated by TPA was not proportional to the amounts of alpha-type PKC stably overexpressed in these cells, suggesting that factor(s) downstream of the activation of the alpha PKC appear to be rate limiting for the induction of both TPA-inducible genes in PK1 cells.