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J Biol Chem. 2009 Feb 6;284(6):3521-8. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M806707200. Epub 2008 Dec 8.

The phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/akt cassette regulates purine nucleotide synthesis.

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Department of Medicine, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093, USA.


The phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt signaling pathway is highly conserved throughout evolution and regulates cell size and survival and cell cycle progression. It regulates the latter by stimulating procession through G(1) and the G(1)/S phase transition. Entry into S phase requires an abundant supply of purine nucleotides, but the effect of the PI3K/Akt pathway on purine synthesis has not been studied. We now show that the PI3K/Akt cassette regulates both de novo and salvage purine nucleotide synthesis in insulin-responsive mouse mesenchymal cells. We found that serum and insulin stimulated de novo purine synthesis in serum-starved cells largely through PI3K/Akt signaling, and pharmacologic and genetic inhibition of PI3K/Akt reduced de novo synthesis by 75% in logarithmically growing cells. PI3K/Akt regulated early steps of de novo synthesis by modulating phosphoribosylpyrophosphate production by the non-oxidative pentose phosphate pathway and late steps by modulating activity of the bifunctional enzyme aminoimidazole-carboxamide ribonucleotide transformylase IMP cyclohydrolase, an enzyme not previously known to be regulated. The effects of PI3K/Akt on purine nucleotide salvage were likely through regulating phosphoribosylpyrophosphate availability. These studies define a new mechanism whereby the PI3K/Akt cassette functions as a master regulator of cellular metabolism and a key player in oncogenesis.

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