The serine/threonine kinase Akt is known to promote cell growth by regulating the cell cycle in G1 phase through activation of cyclin/Cdk kinases and inactivation of Cdk inhibitors. However, how the G 2/M phase is regulated by Akt remains unclear. Here, we show that Akt counteracts the function of WEE1Hu. Inactivation of Akt by chemotherapeutic drugs or the phosphatidylinositide-3-OH kinase inhibitor LY294002 induced G 2/M arrest together with the inhibitory phosphorylation of Cdc2. Because the increased Cdc2 phosphorylation was completely suppressed by wee1hu gene silencing, WEE1Hu was associated with G2/M arrest induced by Akt inactivation. Further analyses revealed that Akt directly bound to and phosphorylated WEE1Hu during the S to G2 phase. Serine-642 was identified as an Akt-dependent phosphorylation site. WEE1Hu kinase activity was not affected by serine-642 phosphorylation. We revealed that serine-642 phosphorylation promoted cytoplasmic localization of WEE1Hu. The nuclear-to-cytoplasmic translocation was mediated by phosphorylation-dependent WEE1Hu binding to 14-3-3θ but not 14-3-3β or -σ. These results indicate that Akt promotes G2/M cell cycle progression by inducing phosphorylation-dependent 14-3-3θ binding and cytoplasmic localization of WEE1Hu.
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