The Akt kinases: isoform specificity in metabolism and cancer

Cell Cycle. 2009 Aug 15;8(16):2502-8. doi: 10.4161/cc.8.16.9335. Epub 2009 Aug 23.


The Akt (PKB) protein kinases are critical regulators of human physiology that control an impressive array of diverse cellular functions, including the modulation of growth, survival, proliferation and metabolism. The Akt kinase family is comprised of three highly homologous isoforms: Akt1 (PKBalpha), Akt2 (PKBbeta) and Akt3 (PKBgamma). Phenotypic analyses of Akt isoform knockout mice documented Akt isoform specific functions in the regulation of cellular growth, glucose homeostasis and neuronal development. Those studies establish that the functions of the different Akt kinases are not completely overlapping and that isoform-specific signaling contributes to the diversity of Akt activities. However, despite these important advances, a thorough understanding about the specific roles of Akt family members and the molecular mechanisms that determine Akt isoform functional specificity will be essential to elucidate the complexity of Akt regulated cellular processes and how Akt isoform-specific deregulation might contribute to disease states. Here, we summarize recent advances in understanding the roles of Akt isoforms in the regulation of metabolism and cancer, and possible mechanisms contributing to Akt isoform functional specificity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Isoenzymes / genetics
  • Isoenzymes / metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • Neoplasms / enzymology*
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / physiology*


  • Isoenzymes
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Glucose