Use of RNA interference-mediated gene silencing and adenoviral overexpression to elucidate the roles of AKT/protein kinase B isoforms in insulin actions
Insulin plays a central role in the regulation of glucose homeostasis in part by stimulating glucose uptake and glycogen synthesis. The serine/threonine protein kinase Akt has been proposed to mediate insulin signaling in several processes. However, it is unclear whether Akt is involved in insulin-stimulated glucose uptake and which isoforms of Akt are responsible for each insulin action. We confirmed that expression of a constitutively active Akt, using an adenoviral expression vector, promoted translocation of glucose transporter 4 (GLUT4) to plasma membrane, 2-deoxyglucose (2-DG) uptake, and glycogen synthesis in both Chinese hamster ovary cells and 3T3-L1 adipocytes. Inhibition of Akt either by adenoviral expression of a dominant negative Akt or by the introduction of synthetic 21-mer short interference RNA against Akt markedly reduced insulin-stimulated GLUT4 translocation, 2-DG uptake, and glycogen synthesis. Experiments with isoform-specific short interference RNA revealed that Akt2, and Akt1 to a lesser extent, has an essential role in insulin-stimulated GLUT4 translocation and 2-DG uptake in both cell lines, whereas Akt1 and Akt2 contribute equally to insulin-stimulated glycogen synthesis. These data suggest a prerequisite role of Akt in insulin-stimulated glucose uptake and distinct functions among Akt isoforms.