Nonredundant role of Akt2 for neuroprotection of rod photoreceptor cells from light-induced cell death

Guiyuan Li, Robert E. Anderson, Hiroshi Tomita, Ruben Adler, Xiaochun Liu, Donald J. Zack, Raju V.S. Rajala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


The Akt kinases mediate cell survival through phosphorylation and inactivation of apoptotic machinery components. Akt signaling provides a trophic signal for transformed retinal neurons in culture, but the in vivo role of Akt activity is unknown. In this study, we found that all three Akt isoforms were expressed in rod photoreceptor cells. We investigated the functional roles of Akt1 and Akt2, two of the isoforms of Akt, and their biological significance in light-induced retinal degeneration. Consistent with the hypothesis that Akt activity is important to circumvent stress-induced apoptosis, herein we report the novel finding that rod photoreceptor cells in Akt2 knock-out mice exhibited a significantly greater sensitivity to stress-induced cell death than rods in heterozygous or wild-type mice. Under similar conditions, Akt1 deletion had no effect on the retina. The presence of three Akt isoforms in the retina is suggestive of a functional redundancy; however, our studies clearly demonstrate that, under stress, Akt1 and Akt3 cannot complement the specific survival signals driven by Akt2. Furthermore, we show that Akt2 is specially activated is response to light stress. The results presented in this study provide the first direct evidence that Akt2 has a nonredundant neuroprotective role in photoreceptor survival and maintenance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)203-211
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 3 2007


  • Akt/PKB
  • Apoptosis
  • Knock-out mice
  • Light damage
  • Photoreceptor degeneration
  • Retina

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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