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J Biol Chem. 2010 Mar 26;285(13):9932-48. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M109.074872. Epub 2010 Jan 6.

Akt Cys-310-targeted inhibition by hydroxylated benzene derivatives is tightly linked to their immunosuppressive effects.

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  • 1School of Bioscience and Biotechnology and Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Kangwon National University, Chuncheon 200-701, Korea.


The hydroxylated benzene metabolite hydroquinone (HQ) is mainly generated from benzene, an important industrial chemical, and is also a common dietary component. Although numerous reports have addressed the tumorigenesis-inducing effects of HQ, few papers have explored its molecular regulatory mechanism in immunological responses. In this study we characterized Akt (protein kinase B)-targeted regulation by HQ and its derivatives, in suppressing inflammatory responses using cellular, molecular, biochemical, and immunopharmacological approaches. HQ down-regulated inflammatory responses such as NO production, surface levels of pattern recognition receptors, and cytokine gene expression with IC(50) values that ranged from 5 to 10 microm. HQ inhibition was mediated by blocking NF-kappaB activation via suppression of its translocation pathway, which is composed of Akt, I kappaB alpha kinase beta, and I kappaB alpha. Of the targets in this pathway, HQ directly targeted and bound to the sulfhydryl group of Cys-310 of Akt and sequentially interrupted the phosphorylation of both Thr-308 and Ser-473 by mediation of beta-mercaptoethanol, according to the liquid chromatography/mass spectroscopy analysis of the interaction of HQ with an Akt-derived peptide. Therefore, our data suggest that Akt and its target site Cys-310 can be considered as a prime molecular target of HQ-mediated immunosuppression and for novel anti-Akt-targeted immunosuppressive drugs.

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