Science signaling

MicroRNAs differentially regulated by Akt isoforms control EMT and stem cell renewal in cancer cells.

PMID 19825827


Although Akt is known to play a role in human cancer, the relative contribution of its three isoforms to oncogenesis remains to be determined. We expressed each isoform individually in an Akt1(-/-)/Akt2(-/-)/Akt3(-/-) cell line. MicroRNA profiling of growth factor-stimulated cells revealed unique microRNA signatures for cells with each isoform. Among the differentially regulated microRNAs, the abundance of the miR-200 family was decreased in cells bearing Akt2. Knockdown of Akt1 in transforming growth factor-beta (TGFbeta)-treated MCF10A cells also decreased the abundance of miR-200; however, knockdown of Akt2, or of both Akt1 and Akt2, did not. Furthermore, Akt1 knockdown in MCF10A cells promoted TGFbeta-induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and a stem cell-like phenotype. Carcinomas developing in MMTV-cErbB2/Akt1(-/-) mice showed increased invasiveness because of miR-200 down-regulation. Finally, the ratio of Akt1 to Akt2 and the abundance of miR-200 and of the messenger RNA encoding E-cadherin in a set of primary and metastatic human breast cancers were consistent with the hypothesis that in many cases breast cancer metastasis may be under the control of the Akt-miR-200-E-cadherin axis. We conclude that induction of EMT is controlled by microRNAs whose abundance depends on the balance between Akt1 and Akt2 rather than on the overall activity of Akt.