Phosphorylated Akt Protein at Ser473 Enables HeLa Cells to Tolerate Nutrient-Deprived Conditions

Document Type : Research Articles


1 Department of Regenerative Medicine, Graduate School of Medicine and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Toyama, Toyama, Japan.

2 Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Pharmacy, Minia University, Minia, Egypt.

3 Division of Natural Drug Discovery, Institute of Natural Medicine, University of Toyama, Toyama, Japan.


Background: Despite angiogenesis, many tumours remain hypovascular and starved of nutrients while continuing to grow rapidly. The specific biochemical mechanisms associated with starvation resistance, austerity, may be new biological characters of cancer that are critical for cancer progression. Objective: This study aim was to investigate the effect of nutrient starvation on HeLa cells and the possible mechanism by which the cells are able to tolerate nutrient-deprived conditions. Methods: Nutrient starvation was achieved by culturing HeLa cells in nutrient-deprived medium (NDM) and cell survival was estimated by using cell counting kit-8. The effect of starvation on cell cycle distribution and the quantitative analysis of apoptotic cells were investigated by flow cytometry using propidium iodide staining. Western blotting was used to detect the expression levels of Akt and phosphorylated Akt at Ser473 (Ser473p-Akt) proteins. Results: HeLa cells displayed extremely long survival when cultured in NDM. The percentage of apoptotic HeLa cells was significantly increased by starvation in a time-dependent manner. A significant increase in the expression of Ser473p-Akt protein after starvation was also observed. Furthermore, it was found that Akt inhibitor III molecule inhibited the cells proliferation in a concentration- and time-dependent manner. Conclusion: Results of the present study provide evidence that Akt activation may be implicated in the tolerance of HeLa cells for nutrient starvation and may help to suggest new therapeutic strategies designed to prevent austerity of cervical cancer cells through inhibition of Akt activation.


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