PKB and the mitochondria: AKTing on apoptosis

Cell Signal. 2008 Jan;20(1):21-30. doi: 10.1016/j.cellsig.2007.07.010. Epub 2007 Jul 25.


Cellular homeostasis depends upon the strict regulation of responses to external stimuli, such as signalling cascades triggered by nutrients and growth factors, and upon cellular metabolism. One of the major molecules coordinating complex signalling pathways is protein kinase B (PKB), a serine/threonine kinase also known as Akt. The number of substrates known to be phosphorylated by PKB and its interacting partners, as well as our broad understanding of how PKB is implicated in responses to growth factors, metabolic pathways, proliferation, and cell death via apoptosis is constantly increasing. Activated by the insulin/growth factor-phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) cascade, PKB triggers events that promote cell survival and prevent apoptosis. It is also now widely accepted that mitochondria are not just suppliers of ATP, but that they participate in regulatory and signalling events, responding to multiple physiological inputs and genetic stresses, and regulate both cell proliferation and death. Thus, mitochondria are recognized as important players in apoptotic events and it is logical to predict some form of interplay with PKB. In this review, we will summarize mechanisms by which PKB mediates its anti-apoptotic activities in cells and survey recent developments in understanding mitochondrial dynamics and their role during apoptosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / physiology*
  • Cell Survival / physiology
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mitochondria / physiology*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / physiology*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-mdm2 / physiology


  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-mdm2
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt