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PLoS One. 2012;7(5):e35997. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0035997. Epub 2012 May 1.

JNK3 maintains expression of the insulin receptor substrate 2 (IRS2) in insulin-secreting cells: functional consequences for insulin signaling.

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Service of Medical Genetics, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois (CHUV), Lausanne, Switzerland.


We have recently shown that silencing of the brain/islet specific c-Jun N-terminal Kinase3 (JNK3) isoform enhances both basal and cytokine-induced beta-cell apoptosis, whereas silencing of JNK1 or JNK2 has opposite effects. While it is known that JNK1 or JNK2 may promote apoptosis by inhibiting the activity of the pro-survival Akt pathway, the effect of JNK3 on Akt has not been documented. This study aims to determine the involvement of individual JNKs and specifically JNK3 in the regulation of the Akt signaling pathway in insulin-secreting cells. JNK3 silencing strongly decreases Insulin Receptor Substrate 2 (IRS2) protein expression, and blocks Akt2 but not Akt1 activation by insulin, while the silencing of JNK1 or JNK2 activates both Akt1 and Akt2. Concomitantly, the silencing of JNK1 or JNK2, but not of JNK3, potently phosphorylates the glycogen synthase kinase3 (GSK3β). JNK3 silencing also decreases the activity of the transcription factor Forkhead BoxO3A (FoxO3A) that is known to control IRS2 expression, in addition to increasing c-Jun levels that are known to inhibit insulin gene expression. In conclusion, we propose that JNK1/2 on one hand and JNK3 on the other hand, have opposite effects on insulin-signaling in insulin-secreting cells; JNK3 protects beta-cells from apoptosis and dysfunction mainly through maintenance of a normal IRS2 to Akt2 signaling pathway. It seems that JNK3 mediates its effects mainly at the transcriptional level, while JNK1 or JNK2 appear to mediate their pro-apoptotic effect in the cytoplasm.

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