Research Resource: Roles for Calcium/Calmodulin-Dependent Protein Kinase Kinase 2 (CaMKK2) in Systems Metabolism

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A number of epidemiological studies have implicated calcium (Ca2+) signaling as a major factor in obesity that contributes to aberrant systems metabolism. Somewhat paradoxically, obesity correlates with decreased circulating Ca2+ levels, leading to increased release of intracellular Ca2+ stores from the endoplasmic reticulum. These findings suggest that insulin resistance associated with the obese state is linked to activation of canonical Ca2+ signaling pathways. Mechanistically, increased intracellular Ca2+ binds calmodulin (CaM) to activate a set of Ca2+/CaM-dependent protein kinases. In this research resource, we explore the metabolic functions and implications of Ca2+/CaM-dependent protein kinase kinase 2 (CaMKK2) as a metabolic effector of Ca2+/CaM action. We reveal the importance of CaMKK2 for gating insulin release from pancreatic β-cells while concomitantly influencing the sensitivity of insulin-responsive tissues. To provide a better understanding of the metabolic impact of CaMKK2 loss, we performed targeted metabolomic analyses of key metabolic byproducts of glucose, fatty acid, and amino acid metabolism in mice null for CaMKK2. We quantified amino acids and acyl carnitines in 3 insulin-sensitive tissues (liver, skeletal muscle, plasma) isolated from CaMKK2−/− mice and their wild-type littermates under conditions of dietary stress (low-fat diet, normal chow, high-fat diet, and fasting), thereby unveiling unique metabolic functions of CaMKK2. Our findings highlight CaMKK2 as a molecular rheostat for insulin action and emphasize the importance of Ca2+/CaM/CaMKK2 in regulation of whole-body metabolism. These findings reveal that CaMKK2 may be an attractive therapeutic target for combatting comorbidities associated with perturbed insulin signaling.

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