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EMBO J. 1997 May 15;16(10):2783-93.

Matrix adhesion and Ras transformation both activate a phosphoinositide 3-OH kinase and protein kinase B/Akt cellular survival pathway.

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Imperial Cancer Research Fund, London, UK.


Upon detachment from the extracellular matrix, epithelial cells enter into programmed cell death, a phenomenon known as anoikis, ensuring that they are unable to survive in an inappropriate location. Activated ras oncogenes protect cells from this form of apoptosis. The nature of the survival signals activated by integrin engagement and usurped by oncogenic Ras are unknown: here we show that in both cases phosphoinositide 3-OH kinase (PI 3-kinase), but not Raf, mediates this protection, acting through protein kinase B/Akt (PKB/Akt). Constitutively activated PI 3-kinase or PKB/Akt block anoikis, while inhibition of PI 3-kinase abrogates protection by Ras, but not PKB/Akt. Inhibition of either PI 3-kinase or PKB/Akt induces apoptosis in adherent epithelial cells. Attachment of cells to matrix leads to rapid elevation of the levels of PI 3-kinase lipid products and PKB/Akt activity, both of which remain high in Ras-transformed cells even in suspension. PI 3-kinase acting through PKB/Akt is therefore implicated as a key mediator of the aberrant survival of Ras-transformed epithelial cells in the absence of attachment, and mediates matrix-induced survival of normal epithelial cells.

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