Full activation of protein kinase B (PKB, also called Akt) requires phosphorylation on two regulatory sites, Thr-308 in the activation loop and Ser-473 in the hydrophobic C-terminal regulatory domain (numbering for PKB alpha/Akt-1). Although 3'-phosphoinositide-dependent protein kinase 1 (PDK1) has now been identified as the Thr-308 kinase, the mechanism of the Ser-473 phosphorylation remains controversial. As a step to further characterize the Ser-473 kinase, we examined the effects of a range of protein kinase inhibitors on the activation and phosphorylation of PKB. We found that staurosporine, a broad-specificity kinase inhibitor and inducer of cell apoptosis, attenuated PKB activation exclusively through the inhibition of Thr-308 phosphorylation, with Ser-473 phosphorylation unaffected. The increase in Thr-308 phosphorylation because of overexpression of PDK1 was also inhibited by staurosporine. We further show that staurosporine (CGP 39360) potently inhibited PDK1 activity in vitro with an IC(50) of approximately 0.22 microm. These data indicate that agonist-induced phosphorylation of Ser-473 of PKB is independent of PDK1 or PKB activity and occurs through a distinct Ser-473 kinase that is not inhibited by staurosporine. Moreover, our results suggest that inhibition of PKB signaling is involved in the proapoptotic action of staurosporine.