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Toya M Albury-Warren, Veethika Pandey, Lina P Spinel, Michal M Masternak, and Deborah A Altomare

Protein kinase B/AKT has three isoforms (AKT1–3) and is renowned for its central role in the regulation of cell growth and proliferation, due to its constitutive activation in various cancers. AKT2, which is highly expressed in insulin-responsive tissues, has been identified as a primary regulator of glucose metabolism as Akt2 knockout mice (Akt2 −/− ) are glucose-intolerant and insulin-resistant. However, the role of AKT1 in glucose metabolism is not as clearly defined. We previously showed that mice with myristoylated Akt1 (AKT1Myr) expressed through a bicistronic Pdx1-TetA and TetO-MyrAk t1 system were susceptible to islet cell carcinomas, and in this study we characterized an early onset, prediabetic phenotype. Beginning at weaning (3 weeks of age), the glucose-intolerant AKT1Myr mice exhibited non-fasted hyperglycemia, which progressed to fasted hyperglycemia by 5 months of age. The glucose intolerance was attributed to a fasted hyperglucagonemia, and hepatic insulin resistance detectable by reduced phosphorylation of the insulin receptor following insulin injection into the inferior vena cava. In contrast, treatment with doxycycline diet to turn off the transgene caused attenuation of the non-fasted and fasted hyperglycemia, thus affirming AKT1 hyperactivation as the trigger. Collectively, this model highlights a novel glucagon-mediated mechanism by which AKT1 hyperactivation affects glucose homeostasis and provides an avenue to better delineate the molecular mechanisms responsible for diabetes mellitus and the potential association with pancreatic cancer.

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A Mori-Abe, S Tsutsumi, K Takahashi, M Toya, M Yoshida, B Du, J Kawagoe, K Nakahara, T Takahashi, M Ohmichi, and H Kurachi

Proliferation of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC) plays a major role as an initiating event of atherosclerosis. Although estrogen directly inhibits the proliferation of VSMC, the mechanism has not been firmly established. In addition, the effect of raloxifene on VSMC remains unknown. 17Beta-estradiol (E(2)) and raloxifene significantly inhibited the growth of VSMC under growth-stimulated conditions. Since mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinases have been implicated in VSMC proliferation, the role of MAP kinases in both the E(2)- and raloxifene-induced growth inhibition of VSMC was studied. Both E(2) and raloxifene caused rapid, transient phosphorylation and activation of p38 that was not affected by actinomycin D and was blocked by ICI 182,780. In contrast with p38 phosphorylation, extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase (ERK) phosphorylation was significantly inhibited and c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) phosphorylation was not changed by E(2). Because VSMC expressed both estrogen receptor (ER) alpha and ERbeta, it is not known which of them mediates the E(2)-induced phosphorylation of p38. Although E(2) did not affect the p38 phosphorylation in A10 smooth muscle cells, which express ERbeta but not ERalpha, transfection of ERalpha expression vector into A10 cells rendered them susceptible to induction of p38 phosphorylation by E(2). We then examined whether E(2) and raloxifene induce apoptosis through a p38 cascade. Both E(2) and raloxifene induced apoptosis under growth-stimulated conditions. The p38 inhibitor SB 203580 completely blocked the E(2)-induced apoptosis. Our findings suggest that both E(2)- and raloxifene-induced inhibition of VSMC growth is due to induction of apoptosis through a p38 cascade whose activation is mediated by ERalpha via a nongenomic mechanism.