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Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2008 Feb;294(2):E307-15. Epub 2007 Nov 20.

Sequential phosphorylation of insulin receptor substrate-2 by glycogen synthase kinase-3 and c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase plays a role in hepatic insulin signaling.

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  • 1Department of Human Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry, Sackler School of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv 69978, Israel.


Serine phosphorylation of insulin receptor substrate (IRS) proteins is a potential inhibitory mechanism in insulin signaling. Here we show that IRS-2 is phosphorylated by glycogen synthase kinase (GSK)-3. Phosphorylation by GSK-3 requires prior phosphorylation of its substrates, prompting us to identify the "priming kinase." It was found that the stress activator anisomycin enhanced the ability of GSK-3 to phosphorylate IRS-2. Use of a selective c-Jun NH(2)-terminal kinase (JNK) inhibitor and cells overexpressing JNK implicated JNK as the priming kinase. This allowed us to narrow down the number of potential GSK-3 phosphorylation sites within IRS-2 to four regions that follow the motif SXXXSP. IRS-2 deletion mutants enabled us to localize the GSK-3 and JNK phosphorylation sites to serines 484 and 488, respectively. Mutation at serine 488 reduced JNK phosphorylation of IRS-2, and mutation of each site separately abolished GSK-3 phosphorylation of IRS-2. Treatment of H4IIE liver cells with anisomycin inhibited insulin-induced tyrosine phosphorylation of IRS-2; inhibition was reversed by pretreatment with the JNK and GSK-3 inhibitors. Moreover, overexpression of JNK and GSK-3 in H4IIE cells reduced insulin-induced tyrosine phosphorylation of IRS-2 and its association with the p85 regulatory subunit of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase. Finally, both GSK-3 and JNK are abnormally upregulated in the diabetic livers of ob/ob mice. Together, our data indicate that IRS-2 is sequentially phosphorylated by JNK and GSK-3 at serines 484/488 and provide evidence for their inhibitory role in hepatic insulin signaling.

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