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J Biol Chem. 2000 Dec 15;275(50):39152-8.

Insulin-like growth factor-1-induced phosphorylation of the forkhead family transcription factor FKHRL1 is mediated by Akt kinase in PC12 cells.

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  • 1Douglas Hospital Research Center, Departments of Psychiatry and of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec H4H 1R3, Canada.


The Forkhead family transcription factor FKHRL1, a mammalian homolog of DAF16 in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, is an inducer of apoptosis in its unphosphorylated form and was recently reported as a substrate of Akt kinases. Insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) is a potent stimulant of Akt kinase, leading to inhibition of the apoptotic pathway. In this study, we characterized the phosphorylation of FKHRL1 induced by IGF-1 in PC12 cells and various neuronal cell types and examined the potential role of Akt in this regard. IGF-1 rapidly induced the phosphorylation of Akt and FKHRL1 in PC12 cells. The phosphorylation of Akt and FKHRL1 induced by 10 nm IGF-1 was inhibited by the phosphatidylinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) inhibitors wortmannin (0.25-2 microm) and LY294002 (12.5-100 microm), but not by the MEK inhibitor PD98059 (50 microm) or the p70 S6 kinase pathway inhibitor rapamycin (50 nm), suggesting that the phosphorylation of FKHRL1 induced by IGF-1 is mediated by the PI3K pathway. As observed for IGF-1, an in vitro kinase assay with purified active Akt kinase demonstrated that the kinase is capable of directly phosphorylating FKHRL1 at Thr(32) and Ser(253), leading to inhibition of its pro-apoptotic properties. Moreover, transient expression of constitutively active Akt (MS-Akt, where MS is a myristylation signal) increased the phosphorylation of FKHRL1, whereas the expression of kinase-dead Akt (M179A Akt) attenuated the phosphorylation of FKHRL1 induced by 10 nm IGF-1 in PC12 cells. Interestingly, FKHRL1 co-immunoprecipitated with Akt in PC12 cells, indicating that these two proteins can associate in these cells. As IGF-1 also induced the phosphorylation of FKHRL1 in primary cortical and cerebellar neuronal cultures, these data, taken together, demonstrate that IGF-1, acting via the PI3K/Akt kinase pathway, can regulate the phosphorylation of FKHRL1, leading to inhibition of this apoptotic transcription factor in neuronal cells.

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