Background: Protein kinase B (PKB) is involved in the regulation of apoptosis, protein synthesis and glycogen metabolism in mammalian cells. Phosphoinositide-dependent protein kinase (PDK-1) activates PKB in a manner dependent on phosphatidylinositol 3,4,5-trisphosphate (PtdIns(3,4,5)P3), which is also needed for the translocation of PKB to the plasma membrane. It has been proposed that the amount of PKB activated is determined exclusively as a result of its translocation, and that a constitutively active pool of membrane-associated PDK-1 simply phosphorylates all the PKB made available. Here, we have investigated the effects of membrane localisation of PDK-1 on PKB activation.
Results: Ectopically expressed PDK-1 translocated to the plasma membrane in response to platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) and translocation was sensitive to wortmannin, an inhibitor of phosphoinositide 3-kinase. Translocation of PDK-1 also occurred upon its co-expression with constitutively active phosphoinositide 3-kinase, but not with an inactive form. Overexpression of PDK-1 enhanced the ability of PDGF to activate PKB. PDK-1 disrupted in the pleckstrin homology (PH) domain which did not translocate to the membrane did not increase PKB activity in response to PDGF, whereas membrane-targeted PDK-1 activated PKB to the extent that it could not be activated further by PDGF.
Conclusions: In response to PDGF, binding of Ptdlns (3,4,5)P3 and/or Ptdlns(3,4)P2 to the PH domain of PDK-1 causes its translocation to the plasma membrane where it co-localises with PKB, significantly contributing to the scale of PKB activation.