The three Akt isoforms differ in their ability to transduce oncogenic signals initiated by the Neu and PyMT oncogenes in mammary epithelia. As a result, ablation of Akt1 inhibits and ablation of Akt2 accelerates mammary tumor development by both oncogenes, while ablation of Akt3 is phenotypically almost neutral. Since the risk of breast cancer development in humans correlates with multiple late pregnancies, we embarked on a study to determine whether individual Akt isoforms also differ in their ability to transduce hormonal and growth factor signals during pregnancy, lactation and post-lactation involution. The results showed that the ablation of Akt1 delays the differentiation of the mammary epithelia during pregnancy and lactation, and that the ablation of Akt2 has the opposite effect. Finally, ablation of Akt3 results in minor defects, but its phenotype is closer to that of the wild type mice. Whereas the phenotype of the Akt1 ablation is cell autonomous, that of Akt2 is not. The ablation of Akt1 promotes apoptosis and accelerates involution, whereas the ablation of Akt2 inhibits apoptosis and delays involution. Mammary gland differentiation during pregnancy depends on the phosphorylation of Stat5a, which is induced by prolactin, a hormone that generates signals transduced via Akt. Here we show that the ablation of Akt1, but not the ablation of Akt2 or Akt3 interferes with the phosphorylation of Stat5a during late pregnancy and lactation. We conclude that the three Akt isoforms have different roles in mammary gland differentiation during pregnancy and this may reflect differences in hormonal signaling.
(c) 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc