Insulin-sparing and fungible effects of E4orf1 combined with an adipocyte-targeting sequence in mouse models of type 1 and type 2 diabetes

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Obesity impairs glycemic control and causes insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Adenovirus 36 (Ad36) infection can increase the uptake of excess glucose from blood into adipocytes by increasing GLUT4 translocation through the Ras-Akt signaling pathway, which bypasses PI3K-Akt-mediated insulin receptor signaling. E4orf1, a viral gene expressed early during Ad36 infection, is responsible for this insulin-sparing effect and may be an alternative target for improving insulin resistance. To deliver the gene to adipocytes only, we connected the adipocyte-targeting sequence (ATS) to the 5′ end of E4orf1 (ATS-E4orf1). In vitro transfection of ATS-E4orf1 into preadipocytes activated factors for GLUT4 translocation and adipogenesis to the same extent as did Hemagglutinin (HA)-E4orf1 transfection as positive reference. Moreover, the Transwell migration assay also showed that ATS-E4orf1 secreted by liver cells activated Akt in preadipocytes. We used a hydrodynamic gene delivery technique to deliver ATS-E4orf1 into high-fat diet-fed and streptozotocin-injected mice (disease models of type 2 and type 1 diabetes, respectively). ATS-E4orf1 improved the ability to eliminate excess glucose from the blood and ameliorated liver function in both disease models. These findings suggest that ATS-E4orf1 has insulin-sparing and fungible effects in type 2 and 1 diabetes independent of the presence of insulin.

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