Akt/protein kinase B promotes organ growth in transgenic mice
Diagnostic Techniques and Procedures
One of the least-understood areas in biology is the determination of the size of animals and their organs. In Drosophila, components of the insulin receptor phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) pathway determine body, organ, and cell size. Several biochemical studies have suggested that Akt/protein kinase B is one of the important downstream targets of PI3K. To examine the role of Akt in the regulation of organ size in mammals, we have generated and characterized transgenic mice expressing constitutively active Akt (caAkt) or kinase-deficient Akt (kdAkt) specifically in the heart. The heart weight of caAkt transgenic mice was increased 2.0-fold compared with that of nontransgenic mice. The increase in heart size was associated with a comparable increase in myocyte cell size in caAkt mice. The kdAkt mutant protein attenuated the constitutively active PI3K-induced overgrowth of the heart, and the caAkt mutant protein circumvented cardiac growth retardation induced by a kinase-deficient PI3K mutant protein. Rapamycin attenuated caAkt-induced overgrowth of the heart, suggesting that the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) or effectors of mTOR mediated caAkt-induced heart growth. In conclusion, Akt is sufficient to induce a marked increase in heart size and is likely to be one of the effectors of the PI3K pathway in mediating heart growth.