Akt/PKB is a critical regulator of cardiac function and morphology, and its activity is governed by dual phosphorylation at active loop (Thr308) by phosphoinositide-dependent protein kinase-1 (PDK1) and at carboxyl-terminal hydrophobic motif (Ser473) by a putative PDK2. P21-activated kinase-1 (Pak1) is a serine/threonine protein kinase implicated in the regulation of cardiac hypertrophy and contractility and was shown previously to activate Akt through an undefined mechanism. Here we report Pak1 as a potential PDK2 that is essential for Akt activity in cardiomyocytes. Both Pak1 and Akt can be activated by multiple hypertrophic stimuli or growth factors in a phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K)-dependent manner. Pak1 overexpression induces Akt phosphorylation at both Ser473 and Thr308 in cardiomyocytes. Conversely, silencing or inactivating Pak1 gene diminishes Akt phosphorylation in vitro and in vivo. Purified Pak1 can directly phosphorylate Akt only at Ser473, suggesting that Pak1 may be a relevant PDK2 responsible for AKT Ser473 phosphorylation in cardiomyocytes. In addition, Pak1 protects cardiomyocytes from cell death, which is blocked by Akt inhibition. Our results connect two important regulators of cellular physiological functions and provide a potential mechanism for Pak1 signaling in cardiomyocytes.
- P21-activated kinase
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine