The role of Akt activation in mouse skin tumor promotion

Jerry Lu, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


The importance of IGF-1/IGF-1R signaling is evident in human cancers including breast, colon, prostate, and lung which have been shown to overexpress IGF-1. Also, serum levels of IGF-1 have been identified as a risk factor for these cancers. IGF-1 has been primarily shown to mediate its mitogenic effects through signaling pathways such as MAPK and PI3K/Akt. In this regard, BK5.IGF-1 transgenic mice were generated and these mice displayed hyperplasia and hyperkeratosis in the epidermis. In addition, these mice were also found to have elevated MAPK, PI3K, and Akt activities. Furthermore, overexpression of IGF-1 in epidermis can act as a tumor promoter. BK5.IGF-1 transgenic mice developed papillomas after initiation with DMBA without further treatment with a tumor promoter such as TPA. Previous data has also shown that inhibition of the PI3K/Akt signaling pathway by the inhibitor LY294002 was able to reduce the number of tumors formed by IGF-1 mediated tumor promotion. The current studies presented demonstrate that Akt may be the critical effector molecule in IGF-1/IGF-1R mediated tumor promotion. We have found that inhibition of PI3K/Akt by LY294002 inhibits cell cycle components, particularly those associated with G1 to S phase transition including Cyclin D1, Cyclin E, E2F1, and E2F4, that are elevated in epidermis of BK5.IGF-1 transgenic mice. We have also demonstrated that Akt activation may be a central theme in early tumor promotion. In this regard, treatment with diverse tumor promoters such as TPA, okadaic acid, chrysarobin, and UVB was shown to activate epidermal Akt and its downstream signaling pathways after a single treatment. Furthermore, overexpression of Akt targeted to the basal cells of the epidermis led to hyperplasia and increased labeling index as determined by BrdU staining. These mice also had constitutively elevated levels of cell cycle components, particularly Cyclin D1, Cyclin E, E2F1, E2F4, and Mdm-2. These mice developed skin tumors following initiation with DMBA and were hypersensitive to the tumor promoting effects of TPA. Collectively, these studies provide evidence that Akt activation plays an important role in the process of mouse skin tumor promotion.

Subject Area

Oncology|Molecular biology

Recommended Citation

Lu, Jerry, "The role of Akt activation in mouse skin tumor promotion" (2004). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3138881.