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J Biol Chem. 2002 Aug 16;277(33):29674-80. Epub 2002 Jun 6.

Akt is a downstream target of NF-kappa B.

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  • 1Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, Texas 75083, USA.


The ubiquitously expressed transcription factor NF-kappa B and the serine-threonine kinase Akt both are involved in the promotion of cell survival. Although initially believed to operate as components of distinct signaling pathways, several studies have demonstrated that the NF-kappa B and Akt signaling pathways can converge. Indeed, I kappa B kinase, the kinase involved in NF-kappa B activation, is a substrate of Akt, and activation of Akt therefore stimulates NF-kappa B activity. Although these results place Akt upstream of NF-kappa B activation in the sequence of signaling events, we report that this may not necessarily be the case and that Akt is a downstream target of NF-kappa B. Treatment of NIH3T3 cells with the NF-kappa B activators, tumor necrosis factor (TNF) alpha and lipopolysaccharide, results in the stimulation of Akt phosphorylation. The stimulation of Akt is, however, detected only after I kappa B-alpha degradation is induced by these agents. The nuclear translocation of p65 and increased DNA binding activity of NF-kappa B also precede Akt phosphorylation. Treatment with two pharmacological inhibitors of NF-kappa B, SN50 and N-tosyl-l-phenylalanine chloromethyl ketone (TPCK), blocks TNF-induced Akt activation. On the other hand TNF-mediated NF-kappa B activation is not reduced by the phosphoinositide-3 kinase inhibitors wortmannin and LY294002, although these inhibitors completely block the activation of Akt. These results suggest that NF-kappa B is required for TNF-mediated Akt activation and that it lies upstream of the stimulation of Akt. Consistent with this conclusion is the finding that overexpression of p65/RelA leads to Akt phosphorylation in the absence of extracellular stimulatory factors, whereas overexpression of I kappa B-alpha reduces Akt phosphorylation below basal levels. Interestingly, in addition to stimulating the phosphorylation of Akt, overexpression of p65 causes an increase in the expression of Akt mRNA and protein.

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