Cisplatin and its analogues have been widely used for treatment of human cancer. However, most patients eventually develop resistance to treatment through a mechanism that remains obscure. Previously, we found that AKT2 is frequently overexpressed and/or activated in human ovarian and breast cancers. Here we demonstrate that constitutively active AKT2 renders cisplatin-sensitive A2780S ovarian cancer cells resistant to cisplatin, whereas phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase inhibitor or dominant negative AKT2 sensitizes A2780S and cisplatin-resistant A2780CP cells to cisplatin-induced apoptosis through regulation of the ASK1/JNK/p38 pathway. AKT2 interacts with and phosphorylates ASK1 at Ser-83 resulting in inhibition of its kinase activity. Accordingly, activated AKT2 blocked signaling down-stream of ASK1, including activation of JNK and p38 and the conversion of Bax to its active conformation. Expression of nonphosphorylatable ASK1-S83A overrode the AKT2-inhibited JNK/p38 activity and Bax conformational changes, whereas phosphomimic ASK1-S83D inhibited the effects of cisplatin on JNK/p38 and Bax. Cisplatin-induced Bax conformation change was inhibited by inhibitors or dominant negative forms of JNK and p38. In conclusion, our data indicate that AKT2 inhibits cisplatin-induced JNK/p38 and Bax activation through phosphorylation of ASK1 and thus, plays an important role in chemoresistance. Further, regulation of the ASK1/JNK/p38/Bax pathway by AKT2 provides a new mechanism contributing to its antiapoptotic effects.
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