Overexpression of human IGF-1 with the bovine keratin 5 (BK5) promoter (BK5.IGF-1 transgenic mice) induces persistent epidermal hyperplasia and leads to spontaneous skin tumor formation. In previous work, PI3K and Akt activities were found to be elevated in the epidermis of BK5.IGF-1 transgenic mice compared to nontransgenic littermates. In the present study, we examined the importance of the PI3K/Akt signaling pathway in mediating the skin phenotype and the skin tumor promoting action of IGF-1 in these mice. Western blot analyses with epidermal lysates showed that signaling components downstream of PI3K/Akt were altered in epidermis of BK5.IGF-1 mice. Increased phosphorylation of GSK-3 (Ser(9/21)), TSC2(Thr(1462)), and mTOR(Ser(2448)) was observed. In addition, hypophosphorylation and increased protein levels of beta-catenin were observed in the epidermis of BK5.IGF-1 mice. These data suggested that components downstream of Akt might be affected, including cell cycle machinery in the epidermis of BK5.IGF-1 mice. Protein levels of cyclins (D1, E, A), E2F1, and E2F4 were all elevated in the epidermis of BK5.IGF-1 mice. Also, immunoprecipitation experiments demonstrated an increase in cdk4/cyclin D1 and cdk2/cyclin E complex formation, suggesting increased cdk activity in the epidermis of transgenic mice. In further studies, the PI3K inhibitor, LY294002, significantly blocked IGF-1-mediated epidermal proliferation and skin tumor promotion in DMBA-initiated BK5.IGF-1 mice. In addition, inhibition of PI3K/Akt with LY294002 reversed many of the cell cycle related changes observed in untreated transgenic animals. Collectively, the current results supported the hypothesis that elevated PI3K/Akt activity and subsequent activation of one or more downstream effector pathways contributed significantly to the tumor promoting action of IGF-1 in the epidermis of BK5.IGF-1 mice.
(c) 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.