Protein kinase B (PKB/Akt), a key mediator of the PI3K signaling pathway

Curr Top Microbiol Immunol. 2010;346:31-56. doi: 10.1007/82_2010_58.


Protein kinase B (PKB/Akt) is a serine/threonine protein kinase that created serious interest when it was revealed as a mediator of the PI3K pathway. It comprises three isoforms that play both unique and redundant roles. Upon binding to phosphatidylinositol-(3,4,5)-trisphosphate (PIP3) generated by PI3K, PKB is phosphorylated by PDK1 at T308. To achieve full kinase activity, PKB needs to be phosphorylated at a second key residue, S473, by members of the PI3K-related kinase family mTORC2 or DNA-PK, depending on the stimulus and the context. Besides, a number of phosphatases and interacting partners have been shown to further modulate its subcellular localization, phosphorylation, and kinase activity. This review aims at illustrating the remarkable complexity in the regulation of PKB signaling downstream of PI3K. Such regulation could be attributed to the specific roles of the PKB isoforms, their expression pattern, subcellular localization, targets, phosphorylation by upstream kinases in a stimulus- and context-dependent manner and by phosphatases, and interaction with binding partners. This allows this key kinase to fulfill physiological functions in numerous processes, including embryonic development, thymocyte development, adipocyte differentiation, glucose homeostasis, and to avoid pathological loss of control such as tumor formation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing / physiology
  • Animals
  • Embryonic Development
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Membrane Proteins / physiology
  • Neoplasms / etiology
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / physiology*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / physiology
  • Thiolester Hydrolases


  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • THEM4 protein, human
  • Thiolester Hydrolases
  • Glucose