Akt as a mediator of cell death


National Academy of Sciences


Protein kinase B/Akt possesses prosurvival and antiapoptotic activities and is involved in growth factor-mediated neuronal protection. In this study we establish Akt deactivation as a causal mediator of cell death. Akt deactivation occurs in multiple models of cell death including N-methyl-d-aspartate excitotoxicity, vascular stroke, and nitric oxide (NO)- and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2)-elicited death of HeLa, PC12, and Jurkat T cells. Akt deactivation characterizes both caspase-dependent and -independent cell death. Conditions rescuing cell death, such as treatment with poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase or NO synthase inhibitors and preconditioning with sublethal concentrations of N-methyl-d-aspartate, restore Akt activity. Infection of neurons with adenovirus expressing constitutively active Akt prevents excitotoxicity, whereas phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase inhibitors or infection with dominant negative Akt induce death of untreated neuronal cells.

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