Activation and membrane binding of retinal protein kinase Bα/Akt1 is regulated through light-dependent generation of phosphoinositides

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Akt is a phospholipid-binding protein and the downstream effector of the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) pathway. Akt has three isoforms: Akt1, Akt2, and Akt3. All of these isoforms are expressed in rod photoreceptor cells, but the individual functions of each isoform are not known. In this study, we found that light induces the activation of Akt1. The membrane binding of Akt1 to rod outer segments (ROS) is insulin receptor (IR)/PI3K-dependent as demonstrated by reduced binding of Akt1 to ROS membranes of photoreceptor-specific IR knockout mice. Membrane binding of Akt1 is mediated through its Pleckstrin homology (PH) domain. To determine whether binding of the PH domain of Akt1 to photoreceptor membranes is regulated by light, various green fluorescent protein (GFP)/Akt1-PH domain fusion proteins were expressed in rod photoreceptors of transgenic Xenopus laevis under the control of the Xenopus opsin promoter. The R25C mutant PH domain of Akt1, which does not bind phosphoinositides, failed to associate with plasma membranes in a light-dependent manner. This study suggests that light-dependent generation of phosphoinositides regulates the activation and membrane binding of Akt1 in vivo. Our results also suggest that actin cytoskeletal organization may be regulated through light-dependent generation of phosphoinositides.

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