Physiological activation of Akt by PHLPP1 deletion protects against pathological hypertrophy

Cardiovasc Res. 2015 Feb 1;105(2):160-70. doi: 10.1093/cvr/cvu243. Epub 2014 Nov 19.


Aims: To examine the role of physiological Akt signalling in pathological hypertrophy through analysis of PHLPP1 (PH domain leucine-rich repeat protein phosphatase) knock-out (KO) mice.

Methods and results: To investigate the in vivo requirement for 'physiological' control of Akt activation in cardiac growth, we examined the effect of deleting the Akt phosphatase, PHLPP, on the induction of cardiac hypertrophy. Basal Akt phosphorylation increased nearly two-fold in the cardiomyocytes from PHLPP1 KO mice and physiological hypertrophy induced by swimming exercise was accentuated as assessed by increased heart size and myocyte cell area. In contrast, the development of pathophysiological hypertrophy induced by pressure overload and assessed by increases in heart size, myocyte cell area, and hypertrophic gene expression was attenuated. This attenuation coincided with decreased fibrosis and cell death in the KO mice. Cast moulding revealed increased capillary density basally in the KO hearts, which was further elevated relative to wild-type mouse hearts in response to pressure overload. In vitro studies with isolated myocytes in co-culture also demonstrated that PHLPP1 deletion in cardiomyocytes can enhance endothelial tube formation. Expression of the pro-angiogenic factor VEGF was also elevated basally and accentuated in response to transverse aortic constriction in hearts from KO mice.

Conclusion: Our data suggest that enhancing Akt activity by inhibiting its PHLPP1-mediated dephosphorylation promotes processes associated with physiological hypertrophy that may be beneficial in attenuating the development of pathological hypertrophy.

Keywords: Akt; Hypertrophy; Mouse model; PH domain leucine-rich repeat protein phosphatase; PHLPP.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Heart / physiopathology
  • Hypertrophy / genetics*
  • Hypertrophy / metabolism
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Myocardium / metabolism*
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / metabolism
  • Nuclear Proteins / deficiency
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism*
  • Phosphoprotein Phosphatases / deficiency
  • Phosphoprotein Phosphatases / metabolism*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / metabolism*


  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • PHLPP1 protein, mouse
  • Phosphoprotein Phosphatases