Sandra Cecconi*,1, Annunziata Mauro2, Valerio Cellini1 and Felice Patacchiola1
1Department of Health Sciences, University of L’Aquila and 2Department of Compara-tive Biomedical Science, University of Teramo, Italy
The serine/threonine protein kinase Akt is involved in many cellular processes including cell growth, survival, proliferation and metabolism. Akt activity is modulated downstream of phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K) in response to different extracellular stimuli. In the mammalian ovary, Akt collaborates with other kinases in the regulation of coordinate follicle and oocyte development. Akt determines the pool of primordial follicles and the transition from quiescent to growing phase. In addition, the kinase modulates granulosa cell apoptosis throughout folliculogenesis. In oocytes Akt participates in the control of meiosis resumption and, at metaphase II stage, regulates polar body emission and spindle organization. Its inhibition negatively affects preimplantation embryo development. As a consequence of such a central role, Akt dysregulation is associated with several human diseases including infertility and ovarian cancer.