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Cancer Res. 2013 Sep 15;73(18):5742-53. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-13-0538. Epub 2013 Jul 24.

Akt SUMOylation regulates cell proliferation and tumorigenesis.

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  • 1Authors' Affiliation: Shanghai Key Laboratory of Regulatory Biology, Institute of Biomedical Sciences and School of Life Sciences, East China Normal University, Shanghai, China.


Proto-oncogene Akt plays essential roles in cell proliferation and tumorigenesis. Full activation of Akt is regulated by phosphorylation, ubiquitination, and acetylation. Here we report that SUMOylation of Akt is a novel mechanism for its activation. Systematically analyzing the role of lysine residues in Akt activation revealed that K276, which is located in a SUMOylation consensus motif, is essential for Akt activation. Ectopic or endogenous Akt1 could be modified by SUMOylation. RNA interference-mediated silencing of UBC9 reduced Akt SUMOylation, which was promoted by SUMO E3 ligase PIAS1 and reversed by the SUMO-specific protease SENP1. Although multiple sites on Akt could be SUMOylated, K276 was identified as a major SUMO acceptor site. K276R or E278A mutation reduced SUMOylation of Akt but had little effect on its ubiquitination. Strikingly, these mutations also completely abolished Akt kinase activity. In support of these results, we found that expression of PIAS1 and SUMO1 increased Akt activity, whereas expression of SENP1 reduced Akt1 activity. Interestingly, the cancer-derived mutant E17K in Akt1 that occurs in various cancers was more efficiently SUMOylated than wild-type Akt. Moreover, SUMOylation loss dramatically reduced Akt1 E17K-mediated cell proliferation, cell migration, and tumorigenesis. Collectively, our findings establish that Akt SUMOylation provides a novel regulatory mechanism for activating Akt function.

©2013 AACR.

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