The serine-threonine kinase AKT regulates proliferation and survival by phosphorylating a network of protein substrates. Here we describe a kinase-independent function of AKT. In cancer cells harboring gain-of-function alterations in MET, HER2, or Phosphatidyl-Inositol-3-Kinase (PI3-K), catalytically-inactive AKT (K179M) protected from druginduced cell death in a PH-domain dependent manner. An AKT kinase domain mutant found in human melanoma (G161V) lacked enzymatic activity in-vitro and in AKT1/AKT2 double knockout cells, but promoted growth-factor independent survival of primary human melanocytes. ATP-competitive AKT inhibitors failed to block the kinase-independent function of AKT, a liability that limits their effectiveness compared to allosteric AKT inhibitors. Our results broaden the current view of AKT function and have important implications for the development of AKT inhibitors for cancer.
- Roger Davis, University of Massachusetts Medical School, United States
© 2014, Vivanco et al.
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Impaired spermatogenesis and male infertility are common manifestations associated with mitochondrial diseases, yet the underlying mechanisms linking these conditions remain elusive. In this study, we demonstrate that mice deficient for the mitochondrial intra-membrane rhomboid protease PARL, a recently reported model of the mitochondrial encephalopathy Leigh syndrome, develop early testicular atrophy caused by a complete arrest of spermatogenesis during meiotic prophase I, followed by degeneration and death of arrested spermatocytes. This process is independent of neurodegeneration. Interestingly, genetic modifications of PINK1, PGAM5, and TTC19 – three major substrates of PARL with important roles in mitochondrial homeostasis – fail to reproduce or modify this severe phenotype, indicating that the spermatogenic arrest arises from distinct molecular pathways. We further observed severe abnormalities in mitochondrial ultrastructure in PARL-deficient spermatocytes, along with prominent electron transfer chain defects, disrupted coenzyme Q (CoQ) biosynthesis, and metabolic rewiring. These mitochondrial defects are associated with a germ cell-specific decrease in GPX4 expression leading arrested spermatocytes to ferroptosis – a regulated cell death modality characterized by uncontrolled lipid peroxidation. Our results suggest that mitochondrial defects induced by PARL depletion act as an initiating trigger for ferroptosis in primary spermatocytes through simultaneous effects on GPX4 and CoQ – two major inhibitors of ferroptosis. These findings shed new light on the potential role of ferroptosis in the pathogenesis of mitochondrial diseases and male infertility warranting further investigation.
As cells migrate and experience forces from their surroundings, they constantly undergo mechanical deformations which reshape their plasma membrane (PM). To maintain homeostasis, cells need to detect and restore such changes, not only in terms of overall PM area and tension as previously described, but also in terms of local, nano-scale topography. Here we describe a novel phenomenon, by which cells sense and restore mechanically induced PM nano-scale deformations. We show that cell stretch and subsequent compression reshape the PM in a way that generates local membrane evaginations in the 100 nm scale. These evaginations are recognized by I-BAR proteins, which triggers a burst of actin polymerization mediated by Rac1 and Arp2/3. The actin polymerization burst subsequently re-flattens the evagination, completing the mechanochemical feedback loop. Our results demonstrate a new mechanosensing mechanism for PM shape homeostasis, with potential applicability in different physiological scenarios.