Many human tumours exhibit activation of the PI3K (phosphoinositide 3-kinase)/Akt pathway, and inhibition of this pathway slows tumour growth. This led to the development of specific Akt inhibitors for in vivo use. However, activation of Akt is also necessary for processes including glucose metabolism. Therefore a potential complication of such anticancer drugs is insulin resistance and/or diabetes. In the process of characterizing the metabolic effects of early-phase Akt inhibitors, we discovered an off-target inhibitory effect on mammalian facilitative glucose transporters. In view of the crucial role of glucose transport for all mammalian cells, such an off-target effect would have major implications for further development of this family of compounds. In the present study, we have characterized a next-generation Akt inhibitor, MK-2206. MK-2206 is an orally active allosteric Akt inhibitor under development for treating solid tumours. We report that MK-2206 potently inhibits Thr308Akt and Ser473Akt phosphorylation in 3T3-L1 adipocytes (IC50 0.11 and 0.18 μM respectively) as well as downstream effects of insulin on GLUT4 (glucose transporter 4) translocation (IC50 0.47 μM) and glucose transport (IC50 0.14 μM). Notably, the potency of MK-2206 is approximately 1 log higher than previous inhibitors and its specificity is significantly improved with modest inhibitory effects on glucose transport in GLUT4-expressing adipocytes and GLUT1-rich human erythrocytes, independently of Akt. Nevertheless, MK-2206 clearly has potent effects on Akt2, the principal isoform involved in peripheral insulin action, in which case insulin resistance will probably be a major complication following in vivo administration. We conclude that MK-2206 provides an optimal tool for studying the effects of Akt in vitro.
Next-generation Akt inhibitors provide greater specificity: effects on glucose metabolism in adipocytes
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Shixiong Tan, Yvonne Ng, David E. James; Next-generation Akt inhibitors provide greater specificity: effects on glucose metabolism in adipocytes. Biochem J 15 April 2011; 435 (2): 539–544. doi: https://doi.org/10.1042/BJ20110040
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