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Genes Dev 1999 Jun 1;13(11):1438-52
Department of Molecular Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.
An insulin receptor-like signaling pathway regulates Caenorhabditis elegans metabolism, development, and longevity. Inactivation of the insulin receptor homolog DAF-2, the AGE-1 PI3K, or the AKT-1 and AKT-2 kinases causes a developmental arrest at the dauer stage. A null mutation in the daf-16 Fork head transcription factor alleviates the requirement for signaling through this pathway. We show here that a loss-of-function mutation in pdk-1, the C. elegans homolog of the mammalian Akt/PKB kinase PDK1, results in constitutive arrest at the dauer stage and increased life span; these phenotypes are suppressed by a loss of function mutation in daf-16. An activating mutation in pdk-1 or overexpression of wild-type pdk-1 relieves the requirement for AGE-1 PI3K signaling. Therefore, pdk-1 activity is both necessary and sufficient to propagate AGE-1 PI3K signals in the DAF-2 insulin receptor-like signaling pathway. The activating mutation in pdk-1 requires akt-1 and akt-2 gene activity in order to suppress the dauer arrest phenotype of age-1. This indicates that the major function of C. elegans PDK1 is to transduce signals from AGE-1 to AKT-1 and AKT-2. The activating pdk-1 mutation is located in a conserved region of the kinase domain; the equivalent amino acid substitution in human PDK1 activates its kinase activity toward mammalian Akt/PKB.