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Balzano D.,Cell Signalling and Adhesion Group | Fawal M.-A.,Nutrients and Cancer Group | Velazquez J.V.,Cell Signalling and Adhesion Group | Santiveri C.M.,Spectroscopy and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Unit | And 5 more authors.
Journal of Biological Chemistry

Protein kinase B (PKB/Akt) is an important mediator of signals that control various cellular processes including cell survival, growth, proliferation, and metabolism. PKB promotes these processes by phosphorylating many cellular targets, which trigger distinct downstream signaling events. However, how PKB is able to selectively target its substrates to induce specific cellular functions remains elusive. Here we perform a systematic study to dissect mechanisms that regulate intrinsic kinase activity versus mechanisms that specifically regulate activity toward specific substrates. We demonstrate that activation loop phosphorylation and the C-terminal hydrophobic motif are essential for high PKB activity in general. On the other hand, we identify membrane targeting, which for decades has been regarded as an essential step in PKB activation, as a mechanism mainly affecting substrate selectivity. Further, we show that PKB activity in cells can be triggered independently of PI3K by initial hydrophobic motif phosphorylation, presumably through a mechanism analogous to other AGC kinases. Importantly, different modes of PKB activation result in phosphorylation of distinct downstream targets. Our data indicate that specific mechanisms have evolved for signaling nodes, like PKB, to select between various downstream events. Targeting such mechanisms selectively could facilitate the development of therapeutics that might limit toxic side effects. © 2015 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc. Source

Tummala K.S.,Nutrients and Cancer Group | Gomes A.L.,Nutrients and Cancer Group | Yilmaz M.,Nutrients and Cancer Group | Grana O.,Bioinformatics Unit | And 8 more authors.
Cancer Cell

Molecular mechanisms responsible for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) remain largely unknown. Using genetically engineered mouse models, we show that hepatocyte-specific expression of unconventional prefoldin RPB5 interactor (URI) leads to a multistep process of HCC development, whereas its genetic reduction in hepatocytes protects against diethylnitrosamine (DEN)-induced HCC. URI inhibits aryl hydrocarbon (AhR)- and estrogen receptor (ER)-mediated transcription of enzymes implicated in L-tryptophan/kynurenine/nicotinamideadenine dinucleotide (NAD+) metabolism, thereby causing DNA damage at early stages of tumorigenesis. Restoring NAD+ pools with nicotinamide riboside (NR) prevents DNA damage and tumor formation. Consistently, URI expression in human HCC is associated with poor survival and correlates negatively with L-tryptophan catabolism pathway. Our results suggest that boosting NAD+ can be prophylactic or therapeutic in HCC. © 2014 Elsevier Inc. Source

Fawal M.-A.,Nutrients and Cancer Group | Brandt M.,Nutrients and Cancer Group | Djouder N.,Nutrients and Cancer Group
Developmental Cell

Ras homolog enriched in brain (Rheb) is critical formechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) activation in response to growth factors and amino acids (AAs). Whereas growth factors inhibit the tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC1-TSC2), a negative Rheb regulator, the role of AAs in Rheb activation remains unknown. Here, we identify microspherule protein 1 (MCRS1) as the essential link between Rheb and mTORC1 activation. MCRS1, in an AA-dependent manner, maintains Rheb at lysosome surfaces, connecting Rheb to mTORC1. MCRS1 suppression in human cancer cells using small interference RNA or mouse embryonic fibroblasts using an inducible-Cre/Lox system reduces mTORC1 activity. MCRS1 depletion promotes Rheb/TSC2 interaction, rendering Rheb inactive and delocalizing it from lysosomes to recycling endocytic vesicles, leading to mTORC1 inactivation. These findings have important implications for signaling mechanisms in various pathologies, including diabetes mellitus and cancer. © 2015 Elsevier Inc. Source

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