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FASEB J. 2004 Dec;18(15):1894-6. Epub 2004 Oct 12.

Amino acids and leucine allow insulin activation of the PKB/mTOR pathway in normal adipocytes treated with wortmannin and in adipocytes from db/db mice.

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  • 1INSERM, Unité 145, Institut Fédératif de Recherche, Nice, Cédex 02, France.


Amino acids are nutrients responsible for mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) regulation in mammalian cells. The mTOR protein is mainly known for its role in regulating cell growth, notably via protein synthesis. In addition to amino acids, mTOR is regulated by insulin via a phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI 3-kinase)-dependent pathway. mTOR mediates crosstalk between amino acids and insulin signaling. We show that in freshly isolated rat adipocytes, insulin stimulates the phosphorylation of mTOR on serine 2448, a protein kinase B (PKB) consensus phosphorylation site. This site is also phosphorylated by amino acids, which in contrast to insulin do not activate PKB. Moreover, insulin and amino acids have an additive effect on mTOR phosphorylation, indicating that they act via two independent pathways. Importantly, amino acids, notably leucine, permit insulin to stimulate PKB when PI 3-kinase is inhibited. They also rescue glucose transport and the mTOR pathway. Further, leucine alone can improve insulin activation of PKB in db/db mice. Our results define the importance of amino acids in insulin signaling and reveal leucine as a key amino acid in disease situations associated with insulin-resistance in adipocytes.

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