A major target of insulin signaling is the FoxO family of Forkhead transcription factors, which translocate from the nucleus to the cytoplasm following insulin-stimulated phosphorylation. Here we show that the Forkhead transcription factors FoxK1 and FoxK2 are also downstream targets of insulin action, but that following insulin stimulation, they translocate from the cytoplasm to nucleus, reciprocal to the translocation of FoxO1. FoxK1/FoxK2 translocation to the nucleus is dependent on the Akt-mTOR pathway, while its localization to the cytoplasm in the basal state is dependent on GSK3. Knockdown of FoxK1 and FoxK2 in liver cells results in upregulation of genes related to apoptosis and down-regulation of genes involved in cell cycle and lipid metabolism. This is associated with decreased cell proliferation and altered mitochondrial fatty acid metabolism. Thus, FoxK1/K2 are reciprocally regulated to FoxO1 following insulin stimulation and play a critical role in the control of apoptosis, metabolism and mitochondrial function
Accumulation of visceral white adipose tissue (WAT) associates with insulin resistance, adipose tissue inflammation, and metabolic syndrome, whereas accumulation of subcutaneous WAT may be protective. We aimed to identify molecular mechanisms that might provide mechanistic insights underlying the phenotypic differences in these tissues. Membrane Metallo-Endopeptidase (MME/Neprislyin) is an extracellular, membrane-bound protease enriched in subcutaneous WAT that can target degradation of a variety of peptides, including insulin, IL6, and β-amyloids. We hypothesized that MME contributes to adipose depot-specific metabolic properties.
We performed RNA sequencing on human subcutaneous and visceral preadipocytes and array gene expression profiling in murine subcutaneous and visceral preadipocytes. We conducted several insulin signaling and inflammatory response experiments on different cellular states of MME expression.
MME in white preadipocytes is expressed at a higher level in subcutaneous compared to visceral WAT and favors insulin signaling and a low inflammatory response. Thus, knockdown of MME in subcutaneous preadipocytes increased the inflammatory response to substance P and amyloid β aggregates. This associated with increased basal insulin signaling and decreased insulin-stimulated signaling. Moreover, MME differentially regulates the internalization and turnover of the α/β subunits of the insulin receptor.
MME is a novel regulator of the insulin receptor in adipose tissue. Given the clinical significance of both chronic inflammation and insulin sensitivity in metabolic disease, these results show a potentially new target to increase insulin sensitivity and decrease inflammatory susceptibility.
Brown adipose tissue (BAT) is rich in mitochondria and plays important roles in energy expenditure, thermogenesis, and glucose homeostasis. We find that levels of mitochondrial protein succinylation and malonylation are high in BAT and subject to physiological and genetic regulation. BAT-specific deletion of Sirt5, a mitochondrial desuccinylase and demalonylase, results in dramatic increases in global protein succinylation and malonylation. Mass spectrometry-based quantification of succinylation reveals that Sirt5 regulates the key thermogenic protein in BAT, UCP1. Mutation of the two succinylated lysines in UCP1 to acyl-mimetic glutamine and glutamic acid significantly decreases its stability and activity. The reduced function of UCP1 and other proteins in Sirt5KO BAT results in impaired mitochondria respiration, defective mitophagy, and metabolic inflexibility. Thus, succinylation of UCP1 and other mitochondrial proteins plays an important role in BAT and in regulation of energy homeostasis.
Insulin deficiency and uncontrolled diabetes lead to a catabolic state with decreased muscle strength, contributing to disease-related morbidity. FoxO transcription factors are suppressed by insulin and thus are key mediators of insulin action. To study their role in diabetic muscle wasting, we created mice with muscle-specific triple knockout of FoxO1/3/4 and induced diabetes in these M-FoxO-TKO mice with streptozotocin (STZ). Muscle mass and myofiber area were decreased 20-30% in STZ-Diabetes mice due to increased ubiquitin-proteasome degradation and autophagy alterations, characterized by increased LC3-containing vesicles, and elevated levels of phosphorylated ULK1 and LC3-II. Both the muscle loss and markers of increased degradation/autophagy were completely prevented in STZ FoxO-TKO mice. Transcriptomic analyses revealed FoxO-dependent increases in ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis pathways in STZ-Diabetes, including regulation of Fbxo32 (Atrogin1), Trim63 (MuRF1), Bnip3L, and Gabarapl. These same genes were increased 1.4- to 3.3-fold in muscle from humans with type 1 diabetes after short-term insulin deprivation. Thus, FoxO-regulated genes play a rate-limiting role in increased protein degradation and muscle atrophy in insulin-deficient diabetes.
Previous studies have shown that insulin and IGF-1 signaling in the brain, especially the hypothalamus, is important for regulation of systemic metabolism. Here, we develop mice in which we have specifically inactivated both insulin receptors (IRs) and IGF-1 receptors (IGF1Rs) in the hippocampus (Hippo-DKO) or central amygdala (CeA-DKO) by stereotaxic delivery of AAV-Cre into IRlox/lox/IGF1Rlox/lox mice. Consequently, both Hippo-DKO and CeA-DKO mice have decreased levels of the GluA1 subunit of glutamate AMPA receptor and display increased anxiety-like behavior, impaired cognition, and metabolic abnormalities, including glucose intolerance. Hippo-DKO mice also display abnormal spatial learning and memory whereas CeA-DKO mice have impaired cold-induced thermogenesis. Thus, insulin/IGF-1 signaling has common roles in the hippocampus and central amygdala, affecting synaptic function, systemic glucose homeostasis, behavior, and cognition. In addition, in the hippocampus, insulin/IGF-1 signaling is important for spatial learning and memory whereas insulin/IGF-1 signaling in the central amygdala controls thermogenesis via regulation of neural circuits innervating interscapular brown adipose tissue.
Regulation of gene expression is an important aspect of insulin action but in vivo is intertwined with changing levels of glucose and counter-regulatory hormones. Here we demonstrate that under euglycemic clamp conditions, physiological levels of insulin regulate interrelated networks of more than 1,000 transcripts in muscle and liver. These include expected pathways related to glucose and lipid utilization, mitochondrial function, and autophagy, as well as unexpected pathways, such as chromatin remodeling, mRNA splicing, and Notch signaling. These acutely regulated pathways extend beyond those dysregulated in mice with chronic insulin deficiency or insulin resistance and involve a broad network of transcription factors. More than 150 non-coding RNAs were regulated by insulin, many of which also responded to fasting and refeeding. Pathway analysis and RNAi knockdown revealed a role for lncRNA Gm15441 in regulating fatty acid oxidation in hepatocytes. Altogether, these changes in coding and non-coding RNAs provide an integrated transcriptional network underlying the complexity of insulin action.
Recent studies suggest that, even within a single adipose depot, there may be distinct subpopulations of adipocytes. To investigate this cellular heterogeneity, we have developed multiple conditionally immortalized clonal preadipocyte lines from white adipose tissue of mice. Analysis of these clones reveals at least three white adipocyte subpopulations. These subpopulations have differences in metabolism and differentially respond to inflammatory cytokines, insulin, and growth hormones. These also have distinct gene expression profiles and can be tracked by differential expression of three marker genes: Wilms' tumor 1, transgelin, and myxovirus 1. Lineage tracing analysis with dual-fluorescent reporter mice indicates that these adipocyte subpopulations have differences in gene expression and metabolism that mirror those observed in the clonal cell lines. Furthermore, preadipocytes and adipocytes from these subpopulations differ in their abundance in different fat depots. Thus, white adipose tissue, even in a single depot, is comprised of distinct subpopulations of white adipocytes with different physiological phenotypes. These differences in adipocyte composition may contribute to the differences in metabolic behavior and physiology of different fat depots
Obesity and diabetes in humans are associated with increased rates of anxiety and depression. To understand the role of the gut microbiome and brain insulin resistance in these disorders, we evaluated behaviors and insulin action in brain of mice with diet-induced obesity (DIO) with and without antibiotic treatment. We find that DIO mice have behaviors reflective of increased anxiety and depression. This is associated with decreased insulin signaling and increased inflammation in in the nucleus accumbens and amygdala. Treatment with oral metronidazole or vancomycin decreases inflammation, improves insulin signaling in the brain and reduces signs of anxiety and depression. These effects are associated with changes in the levels of tryptophan, GABA, BDNF, amino acids, and multiple acylcarnitines, and are transferable to germ-free mice by fecal transplant. Thus, changes in gut microbiota can control brain insulin signaling and metabolite levels, and this leads to altered neurobehaviors
Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) plays a central role in insulin signaling, glucose metabolism, cell growth, cell development, and apoptosis. A heterozygous missense mutation (R649W) in the p85α regulatory subunit gene of PI3K (PIK3R1) has been identified in patients with SHORT (Short stature, Hyperextensibility/Hernia, Ocular depression, Rieger anomaly, and Teething delay) syndrome, a disorder characterized by postnatal growth retardation, insulin resistance, and partial lipodystrophy. Knock-in mice with the same heterozygous mutation mirror the human phenotype. In this study, we show that Pik3r1 R649W knock-in mice fed a high-fat diet (HFD) have reduced weight gain and adipose accumulation. This is accompanied by reduced expression of several genes involved in lipid metabolism. Interestingly, despite the lower level of adiposity, the HFD knock-in mice are more hyperglycemic and more insulin-resistant than HFD-fed control mice. Likewise, when crossed with genetically obese ob/ob mice, the ob/ob mice carrying the heterozygous R649W mutation were protected from obesity and hepatic steatosis but developed a severe diabetic state. Together, our data demonstrate a central role of PI3K in development of obesity and fatty liver disease, separating these effects from the role of PI3K in insulin resistance and the resultant hyperglycemia.
Diet, genetics, and the gut microbiome are determinants of metabolic status, in part through production of metabolites by the gut microbiota. To understand the mechanisms linking these factors, we performed LC-MS-based metabolomic analysis of cecal contents and plasma from C57BL/6J, 129S1/SvImJ, and 129S6/SvEvTac mice on chow or a high-fat diet (HFD) and HFD-treated with vancomycin or metronidazole. Prediction of the functional metagenome of gut bacteria by PICRUSt analysis of 16S sequences revealed dramatic differences in microbial metabolism. Cecal and plasma metabolites showed multifold differences reflecting the combined and integrated effects of diet, antibiotics, host background, and the gut microbiome. Eighteen plasma metabolites correlated positively or negatively with host insulin resistance across strains and diets. Over 1,000 still-unidentified metabolite peaks were also highly regulated by diet, antibiotics, and genetic background. Thus, diet, host genetics, and the gut microbiota interact to create distinct responses in plasma metabolites, which can contribute to regulation of metabolism and insulin resistance.
Complications of diabetes affect tissues throughout body, including central nervous system. Epidemiological studies show that diabetic patients have increased risk of depression, anxiety, age-related cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease. Mice lacking insulin receptor in brain or on hypothalamic neurons display an array of metabolic abnormalities, however, the role of insulin action on astrocytes and neurobehaviors remains less well-studied. Here, we demonstrate that astrocytes are a direct insulin target in the brain and that knockout of IR on astrocytes causes increased anxiety and depressive-like behaviors in mice. This can be reproduced in part by deletion of IR on astrocytes in the nucleus accumbens. At a molecular level, loss of insulin signaling in astrocytes impaired tyrosine phosphorylation of Munc18c. This led to decreased exocytosis of ATP from astrocytes, resulting in decreased purinergic signaling on dopaminergic neurons. These reductions contributed to decreased dopamine release from brain slices. Central administration of ATP analogues could reverse depressive-like behaviors in mice with astrocyte IR knockout. Thus, astrocytic insulin signaling plays an important role in dopaminergic signaling, providing a potential mechanism by which astrocytic insulin action may contribute to increased rates of depression in people with diabetes, obesity and other insulin resistant states.
Mice subjected to cold or caloric deprivation can reduce body temperature and metabolic rate and enter a state of torpor. Here we show that administration of pyruvate, an energy-rich metabolic intermediate, can induce torpor in mice with diet-induced or genetic obesity. This is associated with marked hypothermia, decreased activity, and decreased metabolic rate. The drop in body temperature correlates with the degree of obesity and is blunted by housing mice at thermoneutrality. Induction of torpor by pyruvate in obese mice relies on adenosine signaling and is accompanied by changes in brain levels of hexose bisphosphate and GABA as detected by mass spectroscopy-based imaging. Pyruvate does not induce torpor in lean mice but results in the activation of brown adipose tissue (BAT) with an increase in the level of uncoupling protein-1 (UCP1). Denervation of BAT in lean mice blocks this increase in UCP1 and allows the pyruvate-induced torpor phenotype. Thus, pyruvate administration induces torpor in obese mice by pathways involving adenosine and GABA signaling and a failure of normal activation of BAT.
OBJECTIVE: Glucose is the major energy substrate of the brain and crucial for normal brain function. In diabetes, the brain is subject to episodes of hypo- and hyperglycemia resulting in acute outcomes ranging from confusion to seizures, while chronic metabolic dysregulation puts patients at increased risk for depression and Alzheimer's disease. In the present study, we aimed to determine how glucose is metabolized in different regions of the brain using imaging mass spectrometry (IMS). METHODS: To examine the relative abundance of glucose and other metabolites in the brain, mouse brain sections were subjected to imaging mass spectrometry at a resolution of 100 μm. This was correlated with immunohistochemistry, qPCR, western blotting and enzyme assays of dissected brain regions to determine the relative contributions of the glycolytic and pentose phosphate pathways to regional glucose metabolism. RESULTS: In brain, there are significant regional differences in glucose metabolism, with low levels of hexose bisphosphate (a glycolytic intermediate) and high levels of the pentose phosphate pathway (PPP) enzyme glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) and PPP metabolite hexose phosphate in thalamus compared to cortex. The ratio of ATP to ADP is significantly higher in white matter tracts, such as corpus callosum, compared to less myelinated areas. While the brain is able to maintain normal ratios of hexose phosphate, hexose bisphosphate, ATP, and ADP during fasting, fasting causes a large increase in cortical and hippocampal lactate. CONCLUSION: These data demonstrate the importance of direct measurement of metabolic intermediates to determine regional differences in brain glucose metabolism and illustrate the strength of imaging mass spectrometry for investigating the impact of changing metabolic states on brain function at a regional level with high resolution.
Viruses are the most abundant biological entities and carry a wide variety of genetic material, including the ability to encode host-like proteins. Here we show that viruses carry sequences with significant homology to several human peptide hormones including insulin, insulin-like growth factors (IGF)-1 and -2, FGF-19 and -21, endothelin-1, inhibin, adiponectin, and resistin. Among the strongest homologies were those for four viral insulin/IGF-1-like peptides (VILPs), each encoded by a different member of the family VILPs show up to 50% homology to human insulin/IGF-1, contain all critical cysteine residues, and are predicted to form similar 3D structures. Chemically synthesized VILPs can bind to human and murine IGF-1/insulin receptors and stimulate receptor autophosphorylation and downstream signaling. VILPs can also increase glucose uptake in adipocytes and stimulate the proliferation of fibroblasts, and injection of VILPs into mice significantly lowers blood glucose. Transfection of mouse hepatocytes with DNA encoding a VILP also stimulates insulin/IGF-1 signaling and DNA synthesis. Human microbiome studies reveal the presence of these in blood and fecal samples. Thus, VILPs are members of the insulin/IGF superfamily with the ability to be active on human and rodent cells, raising the possibility for a potential role of VILPs in human disease. Furthermore, since only 2% of viruses have been sequenced, this study raises the potential for discovery of other viral hormones which, along with known virally encoded growth factors, may modify human health and disease.
Despite a high degree of homology, insulin receptor (IR) and IGF-1 receptor (IGF1R) mediate distinct cellular and physiological functions. Here, we demonstrate how domain differences between IR and IGF1R contribute to the distinct functions of these receptors using chimeric and site-mutated receptors. Receptors with the intracellular domain of IGF1R show increased activation of Shc and Gab-1 and more potent regulation of genes involved in proliferation, corresponding to their higher mitogenic activity. Conversely, receptors with the intracellular domain of IR display higher IRS-1 phosphorylation, stronger regulation of genes in metabolic pathways and more dramatic glycolytic responses to hormonal stimulation. Strikingly, replacement of leucine973 in the juxtamembrane region of IR to phenylalanine, which is present in IGF1R, mimics many of these signalling and gene expression responses. Overall, we show that the distinct activities of the closely related IR and IGF1R are mediated by their intracellular juxtamembrane region and substrate binding to this region.
Adipose tissue is a major site of energy storage and has a role in the regulation of metabolism through the release of adipokines. Here we show that mice with an adipose-tissue-specific knockout of the microRNA (miRNA)-processing enzyme Dicer (ADicerKO), as well as humans with lipodystrophy, exhibit a substantial decrease in levels of circulating exosomal miRNAs. Transplantation of both white and brown adipose tissue-brown especially-into ADicerKO mice restores the level of numerous circulating miRNAs that are associated with an improvement in glucose tolerance and a reduction in hepatic Fgf21 mRNA and circulating FGF21. This gene regulation can be mimicked by the administration of normal, but not ADicerKO, serum exosomes. Expression of a human-specific miRNA in the brown adipose tissue of one mouse in vivo can also regulate its 3' UTR reporter in the liver of another mouse through serum exosomal transfer. Thus, adipose tissue constitutes an important source of circulating exosomal miRNAs, which can regulate gene expression in distant tissues and thereby serve as a previously undescribed form of adipokine.
Impaired insulin/IGF1 signalling has been shown to extend lifespan in model organisms ranging from yeast to mammals. Here we sought to determine the effect of targeted disruption of the insulin receptor (IR) in non-neuronal tissues of adult mice on the lifespan. We induced hemizygous (PerIRKO ) or homozygous (PerIRKO ) disruption of the IR in peripheral tissue of 15-weeks-old mice using a tamoxifen-inducible Cre transgenic mouse with only peripheral tissue expression, and subsequently monitored glucose metabolism, insulin signalling and spontaneous death rates over 4 years. Complete peripheral IR disruption resulted in a diabetic phenotype with increased blood glucose and plasma insulin levels in young mice. Although blood glucose levels returned to normal, and fat mass was reduced in aged PerIRKO mice, their lifespan was reduced. By contrast, heterozygous disruption had no effect on lifespan. This was despite young male PerIRKO mice showing reduced fat mass and mild increase in hepatic insulin sensitivity. In conflict with findings in metazoans like Caenorhabditis elegans and Drosophila melanogaster, our results suggest that heterozygous impairment of the insulin signalling limited to peripheral tissues of adult mice fails to extend lifespan despite increased systemic insulin sensitivity, while homozygous impairment shortens lifespan.