The serine/threonine kinase Akt (cellular homolog of murine thymoma virus akt8 oncogene), also known as PKB (protein kinase B), is activated by lipid products of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K). Akt phosphorylates numerous protein targets that control cell survival, proliferation and motility. Previous studies suggest that Akt regulates transcriptional activity of the nuclear factor-kappaB (NFkappaB) by inducing phosphorylation and subsequent degradation of inhibitor of kappaB (IkappaB). We show here that NFkappaB-driven transcription increases in chicken embryonic fibroblasts (CEF) transformed by myristylated Akt (myrAkt). Accordingly, both a dominant negative mutant of Akt and Akt inhibitors repress NFkappaB-dependent transcription. The degradation of the IkappaB protein is strongly enhanced in Akt-transformed cells, and the loss of NFkappaB activity by introduction of a super-repressor of NFkappaB, IkappaBSR, interferes with PI3K- and Akt-induced oncogenic transformation of CEF. The phosphorylation of the p65 subunit of NFkappaB at serine 534 is also upregulated in Akt-transformed cells. Our data suggest that the stimulation of NFkappaB by Akt is dependent on the phosphorylation of p65 at S534, mediated by IKK (IkappaB kinase) alpha and beta. Akt phosphorylates IKKalpha on T23, and this phosphorylation event is a prerequisite for the phosphorylation of p65 at S534 by IKKalpha and beta. Our results demonstrate two separate functions of the IKK complex in NFkappaB activation in cells with constitutive Akt activity: the phosphorylation and consequent degradation of IkappaB and the phosphorylation of p65. The data further support the conclusion that NFkappaB activity is essential for PI3K- and Akt-induced oncogenic transformation.
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