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J Biol Chem. 2001 Jun 8;276(23):19800-6. Epub 2001 Feb 27.

MKK6/3 and p38 MAPK pathway activation is not necessary for insulin-induced glucose uptake but regulates glucose transporter expression.

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Third Department of Internal Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Tokyo, 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-8655, Japan.


p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), which is situated downstream of MAPK kinase (MKK) 6 and MKK3, is activated by mitogenic or stress-inducing stimuli, as well as by insulin. To clarify the role of the MKK6/3-p38 MAPK pathway in the regulation of glucose transport, dominant negative p38 MAPK and MKK6 mutants and constitutively active MKK6 and MKK3 mutants were overexpressed in 3T3-L1 adipocytes and L6 myotubes using an adenovirus-mediated transfection procedure. Constitutively active MKK6/3 mutants up-regulated GLUT1 expression and down-regulated GLUT4 expression, thereby significantly increasing basal glucose transport but diminishing transport induced by insulin. Similar effects were elicited by chronic (24 h) exposure to tumor necrosis factor alpha, interleukin-1beta, or 200 mm sorbitol, all activate the MKK6/3-p38 MAPK pathway. SB203580, a specific p38 MAPK inhibitor, attenuated these effects, further confirming that both MMK6 and MMK3 act via p38 MAPK, whereas they had no effect on the increase in glucose transport induced by a constitutively active MAPK kinase 1 (MEK1) mutant or by myristoylated Akt. In addition, suppression of p38 MAPK activation by overexpression of a dominant negative p38 MAPK or MKK6 mutant did not diminish insulin-induced glucose uptake by 3T3-L1 adipocytes. It is thus apparent that activation of p38 MAPK is not essential for insulin-induced increases in glucose uptake. Rather, p38 MAPK activation leads to a marked down-regulation of insulin-induced glucose uptake via GLUT4, which may underlie cellular stress-induced insulin resistance caused by tumor necrosis factor alpha and other factors.

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