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Sci Signal. 2013 Jul 30;6(286):ra64. doi: 10.1126/scisignal.2004111.

Phosphatidylcholine transfer protein interacts with thioesterase superfamily member 2 to attenuate insulin signaling.

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Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Phosphatidylcholine transfer protein (PC-TP) is a phospholipid-binding protein that is enriched in liver and that interacts with thioesterase superfamily member 2 (THEM2). Mice lacking either protein exhibit improved hepatic glucose homeostasis and are resistant to diet-induced diabetes. Insulin receptor substrate 2 (IRS2) and mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) are key effectors of insulin signaling, which is attenuated in diabetes. We found that PC-TP inhibited IRS2, as evidenced by insulin-independent IRS2 activation after knockdown, genetic ablation, or chemical inhibition of PC-TP. In addition, IRS2 was activated after knockdown of THEM2, providing support for a role for the interaction of PC-TP with THEM2 in suppressing insulin signaling. Additionally, we showed that PC-TP bound to tuberous sclerosis complex 2 (TSC2) and stabilized the components of the TSC1-TSC2 complex, which functions to inhibit mTORC1. Preventing phosphatidylcholine from binding to PC-TP disrupted interactions of PC-TP with THEM2 and TSC2, and disruption of the PC-TP-THEM2 complex was associated with increased activation of both IRS2 and mTORC1. In livers of mice with genetic ablation of PC-TP or that had been treated with a PC-TP inhibitor, steady-state amounts of IRS2 were increased, whereas those of TSC2 were decreased. These findings reveal a phospholipid-dependent mechanism that suppresses insulin signaling downstream of its receptor.

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