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Front Physiol. 2012 Nov 21;3:418. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2012.00418. eCollection 2012.

Computational modeling of the metabolic States regulated by the kinase akt.

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Institute for Biomedical Technologies, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche Segrate Milano, Italy.


Signal transduction and gene regulation determine a major reorganization of metabolic activities in order to support cell proliferation. Protein Kinase B (PKB), also known as Akt, participates in the PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway, a master regulator of aerobic glycolysis and cellular biosynthesis, two activities shown by both normal and cancer proliferating cells. Not surprisingly considering its relevance for cellular metabolism, Akt/PKB is often found hyperactive in cancer cells. In the last decade, many efforts have been made to improve the understanding of the control of glucose metabolism and the identification of a therapeutic window between proliferating cancer cells and proliferating normal cells. In this context, we have modeled the link between the PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway, glycolysis, lactic acid production, and nucleotide biosynthesis. We used a computational model to compare two metabolic states generated by two different levels of signaling through the PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway: one of the two states represents the metabolism of a growing cancer cell characterized by aerobic glycolysis and cellular biosynthesis, while the other state represents the same metabolic network with a reduced glycolytic rate and a higher mitochondrial pyruvate metabolism. Biochemical reactions that link glycolysis and pentose phosphate pathway revealed their importance for controlling the dynamics of cancer glucose metabolism.


PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway; cancer; glycolysis; kinetic models; metabolism

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