The Akt signaling pathway plays a key role in promoting the survival of various types of cells from stress-induced apoptosis, and different members of the Akt family display distinct physiological roles. Previous studies have shown that in response to UV irradiation, Akt2 is sensitized to counteract the induced apoptosis. However, in response to oxidative stress such as hydrogen peroxide, it remains to be elucidated what member of the Akt family would be activated to initiate the signaling cascades leading to resistance of the induced apoptosis. In the present study, we present the first evidence that knockdown of Akt1 enhances cell survival under exposure to 50 μM H2O2. This survival is derived from selective upregulation and activation of Akt2 but not Akt3, which initiates 3 major signaling cascades. First, murine double minute 2 (MDM2) is hyperphosphorylated, which promotes p53 degradation and attenuates its Ser-15 phosphorylation, significantly attenuating Bcl-2 homologous antagonist killer (Bak) upregulation. Second, Akt2 activation inactivates glycogen synthase kinase 3 beta (GSK-3β) to promote stability of myeloid leukemia cell differentiation protein 1 (MCL-1). Finally, Akt2 activation promotes phosphorylation of FOXO3A toward cytosolic export and thus downregulates Bim expression. Overexpression of Bim enhances H2O2-induced apoptosis. Together, our results demonstrate that among the Akt family members, Akt2 is an essential kinase in counteracting oxidative-stress-induced apoptosis through multiple signaling pathways. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 15, 1–17
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