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Mol Cell Biol. 2000 Nov;20(21):8035-46.

Positive and negative regulation of phosphoinositide 3-kinase-dependent signaling pathways by three different gene products of the p85alpha regulatory subunit.

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Research Division, Joslin Diabetes Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, USA.


Phosphoinositide (PI) 3-kinase is a key mediator of insulin-dependent metabolic actions, including stimulation of glucose transport and glycogen synthesis. The gene for the p85alpha regulatory subunit yields three splicing variants, p85alpha, AS53/p55alpha, and p50alpha. All three have (i) a C-terminal structure consisting of two Src homology 2 domains flanking the p110 catalytic subunit-binding domain and (ii) a unique N-terminal region of 304, 34, and 6 amino acids, respectively. To determine if these regulatory subunits differ in their effects on enzyme activity and signal transduction from insulin receptor substrate (IRS) proteins under physiological conditions, we expressed each regulatory subunit in fully differentiated L6 myotubes using adenovirus-mediated gene transfer with or without coexpression of the p110alpha catalytic subunit. PI 3-kinase activity associated with p50alpha was greater than that associated with p85alpha or AS53. Increasing the level of p85alpha or AS53, but not p50alpha, inhibited both phosphotyrosine-associated and p110-associated PI 3-kinase activities. Expression of a p85alpha mutant lacking the p110-binding site (Deltap85) also inhibited phosphotyrosine-associated PI 3-kinase activity but not p110-associated activity. Insulin stimulation of two kinases downstream from PI-3 kinase, Akt and p70 S6 kinase (p70(S6K)), was decreased in cells expressing p85alpha or AS53 but not in cells expressing p50alpha. Similar inhibition of PI 3-kinase, Akt, and p70(S6K) was observed, even when p110alpha was coexpressed with p85alpha or AS53. Expression of p110alpha alone dramatically increased glucose transport but decreased glycogen synthase activity. This effect was reduced when p110alpha was coexpressed with any of the three regulatory subunits. Thus, the three different isoforms of regulatory subunit can relay the signal from IRS proteins to the p110 catalytic subunit with different efficiencies. They also negatively modulate the PI 3-kinase catalytic activity but to different extents, dependent on the unique N-terminal structure of each isoform. These data also suggest the existence of a mechanism by which regulatory subunits modulate the PI 3-kinase-mediated signals, independent of the kinase activity, possibly through subcellular localization of the catalytic subunit or interaction with additional signaling molecules.

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