Key signalling nodes in mammary gland development and cancer. Signalling downstream of PI3 kinase in mammary epithelium: a play in 3 Akts

Breast Cancer Res. 2010;12(2):202. doi: 10.1186/bcr2558. Epub 2010 Apr 9.


The protein serine/threonine kinase Akt, also known as protein kinase B (PKB), is arguably the most important signalling nexus in the cell. Akt integrates a plethora of extracellular signals to generate diverse outcomes, including proliferation, motility, growth, glucose homeostasis, survival, and cell death. The phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt pathway is the second most frequently mutated pathway in cancer, after p53, and mutations in components of this pathway are found in around 70% of breast cancers. Thus, understanding how Akt relays input signals to downstream effectors is critically important for the design of therapeutic strategies to combat breast cancer. In this review, we will discuss the various signals upstream of Akt that impact on its activity, how Akt integrates these signals and modulates the activity of downstream targets to control mammary gland development, and how mutations in components of the pathway result in breast cancer.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Epithelium / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mammary Glands, Human / metabolism*
  • Models, Biological
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction*


  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • AKT1 protein, human
  • AKT2 protein, human
  • AKT3 protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt