The serine threonine kinase Akt1 has been implicated in the control of cellular metabolism, survival and growth. Herein, disruption of the ubiquitously expressed member of the Akt family of genes, Akt1, in the mouse, demonstrates a requirement for Akt1 in miRNA-mediated cellular apoptosis. The miR-17/20 cluster is known to inhibit breast cancer cellular proliferation through G1/S cell cycle arrest via binding to the cyclin D1 3'UTR. Here we show that miR-17/20 overexpression sensitizes cells to apoptosis induced by either Doxorubicin or UV irradiation in MCF-7 cells via Akt1. miR-17/20 mediates apoptosis via increased p53 expression which promotes Akt degradation. Akt1⁻/⁻ mammary epithelial cells which express Akt2 and Akt3 demonstrated increased apoptosis to DNA damaging agents. Akt1 deficiency abolished the miR-17/20-mediated apoptosis. These results demonstrated a novel pathway through which miR17/20 regulate p53 and Akt controlling breast cancer cell apoptosis.
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