Amino acids are well known to activate the mammalian target of the rapamycin (mTOR) pathway in synergy with insulin to regulate cell functions. Despite recent important advances, the mTOR signalling pathway is poorly understood. Our previous results revealed a new pathway in which amino acids permit insulin-induced activation of the protein kinase B (PKB)/mTOR pathway in freshly isolated adipocytes when phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) is inhibited. The aim of this study was to further investigate this pathway at the molecular level.Methods
We studied the effect of amino acids on PKB phosphorylation in different cellular models or in freshly isolated adipocytes incubated in different buffers, after a time course of insulin and amino acids and in the presence of pharmacological inhibitors. To investigate the potential role of amino acids in insulin action, the effect on glucose transport in obese rat adipocytes following a high-fat diet was assessed.Results
Insulin-induced PKB phosphorylation is restored by amino acids in the presence of wortmannin in adipose tissue explants and freshly isolated adipocytes, but not in cultured adipocytes or hepatocytes. Moreover, amino acids require the presence of glucose to phosphorylate PKB and to partially rescue glucose transport in a PI3K-independent manner. The results also suggest that the amino acids act through the phosphoinositide-dependent protein kinase 1. In addition, amino acids were seen to improve insulin-stimulated glucose transport in adipocytes from high-fat-fed rats.Conclusions/interpretation
This study suggests that amino acids could enhance adipocyte insulin signalling in pathophysiological situations such as insulin resistance associated with obesity.