Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Biomedical Sciences


Cancer and Developmental Biology

Research Advisor

Leta K. Nutt


Suzanne J. Baker Xinwei Cao Paul E. Mead Zhaohui Wu Gerard P. Zambetti


Akt, Cancer, Metabolism, PI3K, Signaling, Warburg


Using the biochemically tractable Xenopus oocyte model system, we have previously characterized a novel metabolic regulation of cell death. We found that glucose-6-phosphate (G6P) via the pentose phosphate pathway leads to increased nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH) levels, a subsequent increase in cytosolic acetyl-coenzyme A and activation of Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII). We recently identified coenzyme A (CoA), derived from the breakdown of acetyl-CoA, as the key metabolic signal that mediates a novel mechanism of calmodulindependent activation of CaMKII. CoA binds directly to the calmodulin (CaM) binding domain (CaMBD) of CaMKII resulting in its activation and downstream inhibitory phosphorylation of caspase-2, suppressing apoptosis. In this dissertation, we questioned whether there are other CaMBD containing proteins metabolically regulated by CoA. In an unbiased approach, CaM binding proteins were first isolated from Xenopus extract using a CaM-Sepharose column. Purified CaM binding proteins were then incubated with CoA-Sepharose in a second purification step and resolved by sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) and silver staining. The results indicate the presence of numerous CaM-binding proteins that also bind CoA and are thus potentially metabolically regulated. In a targeted approach, we tested the ability of aberrant glucose signaling to regulate the CaM-binding protein PI3K. We found that addition of G6P, mimicking aberrant glucose metabolism, or CoA to X. laevis egg extracts activated Akt in a phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K), phosphoinositidedependent protein kinase 1(PDPK1)-dependent manner. Additionally, we show that CoA binds directly to and activates PI3K. These findings uncover a novel mechanism of PI3K activation by aberrant glucose metabolism and suggest a potentially unknown constitutive activation pathway of PI3K/Akt by aberrant glucose signaling.