Akt activation protects pancreatic beta cells from AMPK-mediated death through stimulation of mTOR

Biochem Pharmacol. 2008 May 15;75(10):1981-93. doi: 10.1016/j.bcp.2008.02.019. Epub 2008 Feb 26.


Sustained activation of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) induces apoptosis in several cell types. In pancreatic beta cells this occurs under glucose limitation, or in the presence of the pharmacological AMPK activator 5-aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide-riboside (AICAR). It is unknown whether Akt activation can counteract AMPK-mediated apoptosis, nor whether mTOR activation downstream of Akt mediates any survival signal in these conditions. We report that expression of a constitutively active form of Akt increases mTOR activity and prevents apoptosis upon AMPK activation. Akt-mediated survival was inhibited by rapamycin. Expression of a constitutively active form of the mTOR target ribosomal protein S6 kinase (S6K) or of translation factor eIF4E reduced apoptosis by glucose limitation, and co-expression of S6K and eIF4E protected beta cells to the same extent as active Akt. The protective effects of active Akt and S6K were associated with increased cellular protein synthesis activity. It is concluded that Akt stimulation of mTOR and subsequent activation of the targets by which mTOR affects protein translation are required and sufficient mechanisms for Akt-mediated survival of beta cells undergoing sustained AMPK activation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Survival
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Eukaryotic Initiation Factor-4E / metabolism
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / cytology
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / metabolism*
  • Multienzyme Complexes / metabolism*
  • Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / metabolism*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Ribosomal Protein S6 Kinases, 70-kDa / metabolism
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases


  • Eukaryotic Initiation Factor-4E
  • Multienzyme Complexes
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • Protein Kinases
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Ribosomal Protein S6 Kinases, 70-kDa
  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases