In a variety of malignancies, the immune-escape phenotype is associated, in part, with the inability of tumor cells to properly present their Ags to CTLs due to a deranged expression of MHC class I glycoproteins. However, these molecules were found to possess broader nonimmune functions, including participation in signal transduction and regulation of proliferation, differentiation, and sensitivity to apoptosis-inducing factors; processes, which are characteristically impaired during malignant transformation. We investigated whether the deranged expression of MHC class I expression by tumor cells could affect proper receptor-mediated signal transduction and accentuate their malignant phenotype. The malignant and H-2K murine MHC class I-deficient B16BL6 melanoma cells were characterized by an attenuated capacity to bind insulin due to the retention of corresponding receptor in intracellular stores. The restoration of H-2K expression in these cells, which abrogated their capacity to form tumors in mice, enhanced membrane translocation of the receptor, presumably, by modulating its glycosylation. The addition of insulin to H-2K-expressing melanoma cells cultured in serum-free conditions precluded apoptotic death by up-regulating the activity of protein kinase B (PKB)/Akt. In contrast, the deficiency for H-2K characteristic to the malignant clones was associated with a constitutive high activity of PKB/Akt, which rendered them resistant to apoptosis, induced by deprivation of serum-derived growth factors. The possibility to correct the regulation of PKB/Akt activity by restoration of H-2K expression in B16BL6 melanoma cells may be considered as an attractive approach for cancer therapy, since an aberrant activation of this enzyme is characteristic to resistant malignancies.