Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinases (PI3Ks) evolved from a single enzyme that regulates vesicle trafficking in unicellular eukaryotes into a family of enzymes that regulate cellular metabolism and growth in multicellular organisms. In this review, we examine how the PI3K pathway has evolved to control these fundamental processes, and how this pathway is in turn regulated by intricate feedback and crosstalk mechanisms. In light of the recent advances in our understanding of the function of PI3Ks in the pathogenesis of diabetes and cancer, we discuss the exciting therapeutic opportunities for targeting this pathway to treat these diseases.
Recent structural studies of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) have revealed unexpected diversity in the mechanisms of their activation by growth factor ligands. Strategies for inducing dimerization by ligand binding are surprisingly diverse, as are mechanisms that couple this event to activation of the intracellular tyrosine kinase domains. As our understanding of these details becomes increasingly sophisticated, it provides an important context for therapeutically countering the effects of pathogenic RTK mutations in cancer and other diseases. Much remains to be learned, however, about the complex signaling networks downstream from RTKs and how alterations in these networks are translated into cellular responses.
Protein-tyrosine kinases (PTKs) are important regulators of intracellular signal-transduction pathways mediating development and multicellular communication in metazoans. Their activity is normally tightly controlled and regulated. Perturbation of PTK signalling by mutations and other genetic alterations results in deregulated kinase activity and malignant transformation. The lipid kinase phosphoinositide 3-OH kinase (PI(3)K) and some of its downstream targets, such as the protein-serine/threonine kinases Akt and p70 S6 kinase (p70S6K), are crucial effectors in oncogenic PTK signalling. This review emphasizes how oncogenic conversion of protein kinases results from perturbation of the normal autoinhibitory constraints on kinase activity and provides an update on our knowledge about the role of deregulated PI(3)K/Akt and mammalian target of rapamycin/p70S6K signalling in human malignancies.
Akt/PKB is a serine/threonine protein kinase that functions as a critical regulator of cell survival and proliferation. Akt/PKB family comprises three highly homologous members known as PKBalpha/Akt1, PKBbeta/Akt2 and PKBgamma/Akt3 in mammalian cells. Similar to many other protein kinases, Akt/PKB contains a conserved domain structure including a specific PH domain, a central kinase domain and a carboxyl-terminal regulatory domain that mediates the interaction between signaling molecules. Akt/PKB plays important roles in the signaling pathways in response to growth factors and other extracellular stimuli to regulate several cellular functions including nutrient metabolism, cell growth, apoptosis and survival. This review surveys recent developments in understanding the molecular mechanisms of Akt/PKB activation and its roles in cell survival in normal and cancer cells.
Phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K) is a lipid kinase and generates phosphatidylinositol-3,4,5-trisphosphate (PI(3, 4, 5)P3). PI(3, 4, 5)P3 is a second messenger essential for the translocation of Akt to the plasma membrane where it is phosphorylated and activated by phosphoinositide-dependent kinase (PDK) 1 and PDK2. Activation of Akt plays a pivotal role in fundamental cellular functions such as cell proliferation and survival by phosphorylating a variety of substrates. In recent years, it has been reported that alterations to the PI3K-Akt signaling pathway are frequent in human cancer. Constitutive activation of the PI3K-Akt pathway occurs due to amplification of the PIK3C gene encoding PI3K or the Akt gene, or as a result of mutations in components of the pathway, for example PTEN (phosphatase and tensin homologue deleted on chromosome 10), which inhibit the activation of Akt. Several small molecules designed to specifically target PI3K-Akt have been developed, and induced cell cycle arrest or apoptosis in human cancer cells in vitro and in vivo . Moreover, the combination of an inhibitor with various cytotoxic agents enhances the anti-tumor efficacy. Therefore, specific inhibition of the activation of Akt may be a valid approach to treating human malignancies and overcoming the resistance of cancer cells to radiation or chemotherapy.
Akt (also known as protein kinase B or PKB) comprises three closely related isoforms Akt1, Akt2 and Akt3 (or PKBα/β/γ respectively). We have a very good understanding of the mechanisms by which Akt isoforms are activated by growth factors and other extracellular stimuli as well as by oncogenic mutations in key upstream regulatory proteins including Ras, PI3-kinase subunits and PTEN. There are also an ever increasing number of Akt substrates being identified that play a role in the regulation of the diverse array of biological effects of activated Akt; this includes the regulation of cell proliferation, survival and metabolism. Dysregulation of Akt leads to diseases of major unmet medical need such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular and neurological diseases. As a result there has been substantial investment in the development of small molecular Akt inhibitors that act competitively with ATP or phospholipid binding, or allosterically. In this review we will briefly discuss our current understanding of how Akt isoforms are regulated, the substrate proteins they phosphorylate and how this integrates with the role of Akt in disease. We will furthermore discuss the types of Akt inhibitors that have been developed and are in clinical trials for human cancer, as well as speculate on potential on-target toxicities, such as disturbances of heart and vascular function, metabolism, memory and mood, which should be monitored very carefully during clinical trial.
Forkhead box O (FoxO) transcription factors are downstream targets of the serine/threonine protein kinase B (PKB)/Akt. The Akt kinase regulates processes of cellular proliferation and survival. Phosphorylation of FoxOs by Akt inhibits transcriptional functions of FoxOs and contributes to cell survival, growth and proliferation. Emerging evidence suggests involvement of FoxOs in diverse intracellular signaling pathways with critical roles in a number of physiological as well as pathological conditions including cancer. The FoxO signaling is regulated by their interactions with other intracellular proteins as well as their post-translational modifications such as phosphorylation. FoxOs promote cell growth inhibitory and/or apoptosis signaling by either inducing expression of multiple pro-apoptotic members of the Bcl2-family of mitochondria-targeting proteins, stimulating expression of death receptor ligands such as Fas ligand and tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL), or enhancing levels of various cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors (CDKIs). Coupled with their ability to cross-talk with p53, FoxOs represent an important class of tumor suppressors in a variety of cancers. This review summarizes our current understanding of mechanisms by which Akt and FoxOs regulate cell growth and survival that in turn offers opportunities for development of novel strategies to combat cancer. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: P13K-AKT-FOxO axis in cancer and aging.
Phosphoinositide 3-kinases (PI3Ks) regulate numerous biological processes, including cell growth, differentiation, survival, proliferation, migration and metabolism. In the immune system, impaired PI3K signalling leads to immunodeficiency, whereas unrestrained PI3K signalling contributes to autoimmunity and leukaemia. New insights into the role of PI3Ks in lymphocyte biology have been derived from gene-targeting studies, which have identified the PI3K subunits that are involved in B-cell and T-cell signalling. In particular, the catalytic subunit p110delta seems to be adapted to transmit antigen-receptor signalling in B and T cells. Additional recent work has provided new insights into the molecular interactions that lead to PI3K activation and the signalling pathways that are regulated by PI3K.
The resistance of many types of cancer to conventional chemotherapies is a major factor undermining successful cancer treatment. In this review, the role of a signal transduction pathway comprised of the lipid kinase, phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K), and the serine/threonine kinase, Akt (or PKB), in chemotherapeutic resistance will be explored. Activation of this pathway plays a pivotal role in essential cellular functions such as survival, proliferation, migration and differentiation that underlie the biology of human cancer. Akt activation also contributes to tumorigenesis and tumor metastasis, and as shown most recently, resistance to chemotherapy. Modulating Akt activity is now a commonly observed endpoint of chemotherapy administration or administration of chemopreventive agents. Studies performed in vitro and in vivo combining small molecule inhibitors of the PI3K/Akt pathway with standard chemotherapy have been successful in attenuating chemotherapeutic resistance. As a result, small molecules designed to specifically target Akt and other components of the pathway are now being developed for clinical use as single agents and in combination with chemotherapy to overcome therapeutic resistance. Specifically inhibiting Akt activity may be a valid approach to treat cancer and increase the efficacy of chemotherapy.
Phosphoinositide kinases (PI3Ks) play an important role in mitogenic signaling and cell survival, cytoskeletal remodeling, metabolic control and vesicular trafficking. Here we summarize the structure-function relationships delineating the activation process of class I PI3Ks involving various domains of adapter subunits, Ras, and interacting proteins. The resulting product, PtdIns(3,4,5)P3, targets Akt/protein kinase B (PKB), Bruton's tyrosine kinase (Btk), phosphoinositide-dependent kinases (PDK), integrin-linked kinase (ILK), atypical protein kinases C (PKC), phospholipase Cgamma and more. Surface receptor-activated PI3Ks function in mammals, insects, nematodes and slime mold, but not yeast. While many members of the class II family have been identified and characterized biochemically, it is presently unknown how these C2-domain containing PI3Ks are activated, and which PI substrate they phosphorylate in vivo. PtdIns 3-P is produced by Vps34p/class III PI3Ks and operates via the PtdIns 3-P-binding proteins early endosomal antigen (EEA1), yeast Vac1p, Vps27p, Pip1p in lysosomal protein targeting. Besides the production of D3 phosphorylated lipids, PI3Ks have an intrinsic protein kinase activity. For trimeric GTP-binding protein-activated PI3Kgamma, protein kinase activity seems to be sufficient to trigger mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK). Recent disruption of PI3K genes in slime mold, Caenorhabditis elegans, Drosophila melanogaster and mice further underlines the importance of PI3K signaling systems and elucidates the role of PI3K signaling in multicellular organisms.
Members of the phosphoinositide-3 kinase (PI3K) family control several cellular responses including cell growth, survival, cytoskeletal remodeling and the trafficking of intracellular organelles in many different types of cell. In particular PI3K has important functions in the immune system. It has been difficult to evaluate the roles of distinct PI3Ks in cellular immune responses because no PI3K inhibitors are specific for individual family members and because most stimuli activate several PI3K enzymes. The development of gene-targeted mice now enables us to examine the physiological functions of individual PI3K enzymes in the immune system in vivo.
We have recently shown that the Ras-Raf-MEK-ERK and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)-Akt signaling pathways can cross-talk in the human breast cancer cell line MCF-7. High Raf activity induces growth arrest and differentiation in these cells, whereas high PI3K/Akt activity correlates with cell survival and proliferation. Here we show that the Raf-Akt cross-talk is regulated in a concentration- and ligand-dependent manner. High doses of insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) activate Akt quickly and strongly enough to suppress Raf kinase activity via phosphorylation of Ser-259, whereas low doses of IGF-I do not trigger this cross-talk but are still mitogenic. Phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate, a differentiation-inducing stimulus, potently activates the Ras-Raf-MEK-ERK pathway but only weakly activates PI3K/Akt and does not trigger the cross-talk. Thus, the herein analyzed parameters such as ligand type, concentration, and time course may contribute to the cellular response of either proliferation or differentiation. This is highly relevant to understanding cellular transformation and may be of use in areas like tissue engineering.
The activation of PI3K (phosphoinositide 3-kinase) family members is a universal event in response to virtually all cytokines, growth factors and hormones. As a result of formation of PtdIns with an added phosphate at the 3 position of the inositol ring, activation of the protein kinases PDK1 (phosphoinositide-dependent kinase 1) and PKB (protein kinase B)/Akt occurs. The PI3K/PKB pathway impinges upon a remarkable array of intracellular events that influence either directly or indirectly whether or not a cell will undergo apoptosis. In this review, the many ways in which PI3K/PKB can control these processes are summarized. Not all of the events described will necessarily play a role in any one cell type, but a subset of these events is probably essential for the survival of every cell.
The neurotrophins are a family of closely related proteins that were first identified as survival factors for sympathetic and sensory neurons and have since been shown to control a number of aspects of survival, development, and function of neurons in both the central and peripheral nervous systems. Limiting quantities of neurotrophins during development control the numbers of surviving neurons to ensure a match between neurons and the requirement for a suitable density of target innervation. Biological effects of each of the four mammalian neurotrophins are mediated through activation of one or more of the three members of the tropomyosin-related kinase (Trk) family of receptor tyrosine kinases (TrkA, TrkB, and TrkC). In addition, all neurotrophins activate the p75 neurotrophin receptor, a member of the tumor necrosis factor receptor superfamily. Neurotrophin engagement of Trk receptors leads to activation of Ras, phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase, phospholipase C-γ1, and signaling pathways controlled through these proteins, including the mitogen-activated protein kinases. Neurotrophin availability is required into adulthood, where they control synaptic function and plasticity and sustain neuronal cell survival, morphology, and differentiation. This chapter will provide an overview of neurotrophin biology, their receptors, and signaling pathways.
The PI3K-Akt pathway is a major survival pathway activated in cancer. Efforts to develop targeted therapies have not been fully successful, mainly because of extensive internal intrapathway or external interpathway negative feedback loops or because of networking between pathway suppressors. The PTEN tumor suppressor is the major brake of the pathway and a common target for inactivation in somatic cancers. This review will highlight the networking of PTEN with other inhibitors of the pathway, relevant to cancer progression. PTEN constitutes the main node of the inhibitory network, and a series of convergences at different levels in the PI3K-Akt pathway, starting from those with growth factor receptors, will be described. As PTEN exerts enzymatic activity as a phosphatidylinositol-3,4,5-trisphosphate (PIP(3)) phosphatase, thus opposing the activity of PI3K, the concerted actions to increase the availability of PIP(3) in cancer cells, relying either on other phosphoinositide enzymes or on the intrinsic regulation of PTEN activity by other molecules, will be discussed. In particular, the synergy between PTEN and the circle of its direct interacting proteins will be brought forth in an attempt to understand both the activation of the PI3K-Akt pathway and the connections with other parallel oncogenic pathways. The understanding of the interplay between the modulators of the PI3K-Akt pathway in cancer should eventually lead to the design of therapeutic approaches with increased efficacy in the clinic.
The serine/threonine kinase Akt has been intensely studied for its role in growth factor-mediated cell survival for the past 5 years. On the other hand, the ongoing research effort has recently uncovered novel regulatory mechanisms and downstream effectors of Akt that demonstrate the involvement of Akt in other cellular functions such as cell cycle progression, angiogenesis, and cancer cell invasion/metastasis. Furthermore, recent studies using whole model organisms suggest additional roles for Akt in important diseases such as aging and diabetes. The following review addresses these recent advances in the understanding of Akt function.
Regulation of growth and proliferation in higher eukaryotic cells results from an integration of nutritional, energy, and mitogenic signals. Biochemical processes underlying cell growth and proliferation are governed by the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) and target of rapamycin (TOR) signaling pathways. The importance of the interplay between these two pathways is underscored by the discovery that the TOR inhibitor rapamycin is effective against tumors caused by misregulation of the PI3K pathway. We review here recent data concerning the convergence of the PI3K and TOR pathways, the role of these pathways in cell growth and proliferation, and the regulation of growth by downstream TOR targets.
Activation of cytosolic phosphoinositide-3 kinase (PI-3K) signaling pathway has been well established to regulate gene expression, cell cycle, and survival by feeding signals to the nucleus. In addition, strong evidences accumulated over the past few years indicate the presence of an autonomous inositol lipid metabolism and PI-3K signaling within the nucleus. Much less, however, is known about the role and regulation of this nuclear PI-3K pathway. Components of the PI-3K signaling pathway, including PI 3-kinase and its downstream kinase Akt, have been identified at the nuclear level. Consistent with the presence of a complete PI-3K signaling pathway in the nucleus, we have recently found that phosphoinositide-dependent kinase 1 (PDK1), a kinase functioning downstream of PI-3K and upstream of Akt, is a nucleo-cytoplasmic shuttling protein. In the present review, we update our current knowledge on the regulatory mechanisms and the functional roles of PDK1 nuclear translocation. We also summarize some of the kinase-independent activities of PDK1 in cell signaling.
Serine threonine kinase Akt, also called PKB (protein kinase B), plays a central role in regulating intracellular survival. Deregulation of this Akt signaling pathway underlies various human neoplastic diseases. Recently, the proto-oncogene TCL1 (T cell leukemia 1), with a previously unknown physiological function, was shown to interact with the Akt pleckstrin homology domain, enhancing Akt kinase activity; hence, it functions as an Akt kinase coactivator. In contrast to pathological conditions in which the TCL1 gene is highly activated in various human neoplasmic diseases, the physiological expression of TCL1 is tightly limited to early developmental cells as well as various developmental stages of immune cells. The NBRE (nerve growth factor-responsive element) of the proximal TCL1 promoter sequences can regulate the restricted physiological expression of TCL1 in a negative feedback mechanism. Further, based on the NMR structural studies of Akt-TCL1 protein complexes, an inhibitory peptide, "Akt-in," consisting of the betaA strand of TCL1, has been identified and has therapeutic potential. This review article summarizes and discusses recent advances in the understanding of TCL1-Akt functional interaction in order to clarify the biological action of the proto-oncogene TCL1 family and the development avenues for a suppressive drug specific for Akt, a core intracellular survival regulator.