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J Diabetes Complications. 2001 Mar-Apr;15(2):88-96.

Glucose-induced insulin resistance of phosphatidylinositol 3'-OH kinase and AKT/PKB is mediated by the hexosamine biosynthesis pathway.

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Division of Nephrology, University of Mississippi Medical Center, 2500 North State Street, Jackson, MS 39216, USA.


Hyperglycemia is responsible for many of the vascular complications and metabolic derangements seen in diabetes. One potential regulator of the effects of glucose is the hexosamine biosynthesis pathway (HBP). Glutamine: fructose-6-phosphate amidotransferase (GFA), the first and rate-limiting enzyme in this pathway, catalyzes the transfer of an amino group from glutamine to fructose-6-phosphate to form glucosamine-6-phosphate. Overexpression of GFA in rat-1 fibroblasts results in insulin resistance for glycogen synthase (GS) activity, and renders these cells more sensitive to the effects of glucose. Using rat-1 cells, we examine further the mechanisms whereby hexosamines lead to insulin resistance. Insulin stimulated GS activity was found to occur via a PI-3 kinase (PI-3K)-dependent pathway as wortmannin, an inhibitor of PI-3K, blocked insulin's ability to stimulate GS activity. Subsequently, we examined the effects of hexosamines on PI-3K and Akt/PKB activity. Cells were cultured in 1 mM glucose (low glucose, LG), 20 mM glucose (high glucose, HG), or 1 mM glucose plus 3 mM glucosamine (GlcN) for 16--20 h. After treatment with insulin (100 nM) for 5 min, cell extracts were assayed for IRS-1 associated and total PI-3K activity. At LG, insulin increased PI-3K activity by 43%. There was no insulin stimulation of PI-3K activity in cells cultured in HG or GlcN. There was a trend for IRS-1 protein levels to decrease in HG but not GlcN. PI-3K protein levels were not altered by HG or GlcN. Finally PKB activity was assayed. At LG, insulin stimulated PKB activity. Again, both HG and GlcN significantly reduced insulin's ability to stimulate PKB activity. We conclude that the hexosamine-mediated insulin resistance of GS activity seen in rat-1 cells is mediated by hexosamine regulation of PI-3K and PKB.

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