Forkhead box O (FoxO) transcription factors are downstream targets of the serine/threonine protein kinase B (PKB)/Akt. The Akt kinase regulates processes of cellular proliferation and survival. Phosphorylation of FoxOs by Akt inhibits transcriptional functions of FoxOs and contributes to cell survival, growth and proliferation. Emerging evidence suggests involvement of FoxOs in diverse intracellular signaling pathways with critical roles in a number of physiological as well as pathological conditions including cancer. The FoxO signaling is regulated by their interactions with other intracellular proteins as well as their post-translational modifications such as phosphorylation. FoxOs promote cell growth inhibitory and/or apoptosis signaling by either inducing expression of multiple pro-apoptotic members of the Bcl2-family of mitochondria-targeting proteins, stimulating expression of death receptor ligands such as Fas ligand and tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL), or enhancing levels of various cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors (CDKIs). Coupled with their ability to cross-talk with p53, FoxOs represent an important class of tumor suppressors in a variety of cancers. This review summarizes our current understanding of mechanisms by which Akt and FoxOs regulate cell growth and survival that in turn offers opportunities for development of novel strategies to combat cancer. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: P13K-AKT-FOxO axis in cancer and aging.
2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.