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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Jun 21;108(25):10162-7. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1019268108. Epub 2011 Jun 6.

Hyperinsulinemia leads to uncoupled insulin regulation of the GLUT4 glucose transporter and the FoxO1 transcription factor.

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Biochemistry Department, Weill Cornell Medical College, 1300 York Avenue, New York, NY 10065, USA.


Insulin resistance is a component of the metabolic syndrome and Type 2 diabetes. It has been recently shown that in liver insulin resistance is not complete. This so-called selective insulin resistance is characterized by defective insulin inhibition of hepatic glucose output while insulin-induced lipogenesis is maintained. How this occurs and whether uncoupled insulin action develops in other tissues is unknown. Here we show in a model of chronic hyperinsulinemia that adipocytes develop selective insulin resistance in which translocation of the GLUT4 glucose transporter to the cell surface is blunted yet nuclear exclusion of the FoxO1 transcription factor is preserved, rendering uncoupled insulin-controlled carbohydrate and lipid metabolisms. We found that in adipocytes FoxO1 nuclear exclusion has a lower half-maximal insulin dose than GLUT4 translocation, and it is because of this inherent greater sensitivity that control of FoxO1 by physiological insulin concentrations is maintained in adipocytes with compromised insulin signaling. Pharmacological and genetic interventions revealed that insulin regulates GLUT4 and FoxO1 through the PI3-kinase isoform p110α, although FoxO1 showed higher sensitivity to p110α activity than GLUT4. Transient down-regulation and overexpression of Akt isoforms in adipocytes demonstrated that insulin-activated PI3-kinase signals to GLUT4 primarily through Akt2 kinase, whereas Akt1 and Akt2 signal to FoxO1. We propose that the lower threshold of insulin activity for FoxO1's nuclear exclusion is in part due to its regulation by both Akt isoforms. Identification of uncoupled insulin action in adipocytes suggests this condition might be a general phenomenon of insulin target tissues contributing to insulin resistance's pathophysiology.

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