A recent study by postdoc Peter Kerpedjiev and highlighted in Nature has reported a list of the ten most studied genes of all time — a sort of ‘top hits’ of the human genome, and several other genomes besides. This sheds light on important trends in biomedical research, revealing how concerns over specific diseases or public-health issues have shifted research priorities towards underlying genes. It also shows how just a few genes, many of which span disciplines and disease areas, have dominated research.
Creeping in at number 10 is Protein Kinase B (AKT) which, together with Brian Hemmings and Philip Tsichlis, we were the first to identify (Coffer & Woodgett, 1992). Subsequently, together with Boudewijn Burgering, we were able to demonstrate that PKB/AKT was the missing link downstream of PI3K transducing a plethora of extracellular stimuli to intracellular signaling events (Burgering & Coffer, 1995).
Great to see how much research has gone into understanding PKB/AKT biology over the last 20 years, with more than 350 clinical trials exploiting these findings. If you would like to learn more then take a look at the recent excellent review from Brendan Manning and Alex Toker (Manning & Toker, 2017).