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J Biol Chem. 2008 Dec 19;283(51):35375-82. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M806480200. Epub 2008 Oct 24.

S6K directly phosphorylates IRS-1 on Ser-270 to promote insulin resistance in response to TNF-(alpha) signaling through IKK2.

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  • 1Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Louisiana State University System, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70808, USA.


S6K1 (p70S6K) is a serine kinase downstream from Akt in the insulin signaling pathway that is involved in negative feedback regulation of insulin action. S6K1 is also activated by TNF-alpha, a pro-inflammatory cytokine. However, its role remains to be characterized. In the current study, we elucidated a mechanism for S6K1 to mediate TNF-alpha-induced insulin resistance in adipocytes and hepatocytes. S6K1 was phosphorylated at Thr-389 in response to TNF-alpha. This led to phosphorylation of IRS-1 by S6K1 at multiple serine residues including Ser-270, Ser-307, Ser-636, and Ser-1101 in human IRS-1 (Ser-265, Ser-302, Ser-632, and Ser-1097, in rodent IRS-1). Direct phosphorylation of these sites by S6K1 was observed in an in vitro kinase assay using purified IRS-1 and S6K1. Phosphorylation of all these serines was increased in the adipose tissue of obese mice. RNAi knockdown demonstrated an important role for S6K1 in mediating TNF-alpha-induced IRS-1 inhibition that led to impaired insulin-stimulated glucose uptake in adipocytes. A point mutant of IRS-1 (S270A) impaired association of IRS-1 with S6K1 resulting in diminished phosphorylation of IRS-1 at three other S6K1 phosphorylation sites (Ser-307, Ser-636, and Ser-1101). Expression of a dominant negative S6K1 mutant prevented TNF-induced Ser-270 phosphorylation and IRS-1 protein degradation. Moreover, in IKK2 (but not IKK1)-null cells, TNF-alpha treatment did not result in Thr-389 phosphorylation of S6K1. We present a new mechanism for TNF-alpha to induce insulin resistance that involves activation of S6K by an IKK2-dependent pathway. S6K directly phosphorylates IRS-1 on multiple serine residues to inhibit insulin signaling.

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