The serine/threonine kinase Akt, or protein kinase B (PKB), has recently been a focus of intense research. It appears that Akt/PKB lies in the crossroads of multiple cellular signaling pathways and acts as a transducer of many functions initiated by growth factor receptors that activate phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI 3-kinase). Akt/PKB is particularly important in mediating several metabolic actions of insulin. Another major activity of Akt/PKB is to mediate cell survival. In addition, the recent discovery of the tumor suppressor PTEN as an antagonist of PI 3-kinase and Akt/PKB kinase activity suggests that Akt/PKB is a critical factor in the genesis of cancer. Thus, elucidation of the mechanisms of Akt/PKB regulation and its physiological functions should be important for the understanding of cellular metabolism, apoptosis, and cancer.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.