Insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-dependent and -independent antitumor activities of insulin-like growth factor binding protein-3 (IGFBP-3) have been proposed in human non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells. However, the mechanism underlying regulation of IGFBP-3 expression in NSCLC cells is not well understood. In this study, we show that activation of Akt, especially Akt3, plays a major role in the mRNA expression and protein stability of IGFBP-3 and thus antitumor activities of IGFBP-3 in NSCLC cells. When Akt was activated by genomic or pharmacologic approaches, IGFBP-3 transcription and protein stability were decreased. Conversely, suppression of Akt increased IGFBP-3 mRNA levels and protein stability in NSCLC cell lines. Characterization of the effects of constitutively active form of each Akt subtype (HA-Akt-DD) on IGFBP-3 expression in NSCLC cells and a xenograft model indicated that Akt3 plays a major role in the Akt-mediated regulation of IGFBP-3 expression and thus suppression of Akt effectively enhances the antitumor activities of IGFBP-3 in NSCLC cells with Akt3 overactivation. Collectively, these data suggest a novel function of Akt3 as a negative regulator of IGFBP-3, indicating the possible benefit of a combined inhibition of IGFBP-3 and Akt3 for the treatment of patients with NSCLC.
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