Soluble Inositol PhosphatesInositol is best known as a lipid head group, that can be phosphorylated to form 8 potential phosphorylated phosphatidylinositols. These membrane bound signaling lipids have many important roles in cell biology, including in signal transduction. In addition to these 8 membrane bound lipids, the inositol headgroup can be solubilized from the lipid tails by phospholipases. This leads to the important second messenger IP3, which can then be further phosphorylated to yield IP4, IP5 and IP6. Adding even more to the complexity, these rings can be pyrophosphorylated to yield even more species including IP7 and IP8 among others. The functions of these phosphorylated inositol rings are largely unknown.
Role of IP7 in Akt ActivationThe IP6-Kinase 1 phosphorylates IP6 to form IP7 (pyrophospho-IP5). The current paper, Chakraborty et al. (2010), describes insulin signaling in cells in which IP6 is knocked out. As expected, IP7 concentrations are reduced in these cells, but the major finding is that Akt phosphorylation and activation is increased. The proposed mechanism for this effect is that IP7 acts as an endogenous, physiological inhibitor of Akt, likely by competitively inhibiting the ability of PIP3 to bind to the same site in its PH domain. Once IP7 is reduced, this inhibition is released, and Akt can be activated more easily.
Consistent with hyperactivation of Akt, these knockout mice exhibit increased insulin sensitivity and a reduction in diet-induced obesity. Akt and its downstream targets are known to be major mediators of insulin signaling, and so increased insulin signaling through the Akt pathway leads to increased glucose disposal and a resistance to diet-induced weight gain, insulin resistance, hyperinsulinemia and hyperglycemia. These data are consistent with a role of IP7 as a negative regulator of insulin signaling and the authors propose that IP6K1 may be a novel potential therapeutic target to improve insulin sensitivity.
Chakraborty, A., Koldobskiy, M., Bello, N., Maxwell, M., Potter, J., Juluri, K., Maag, D., Kim, S., Huang, A., & Dailey, M. (2010). Inositol Pyrophosphates Inhibit Akt Signaling, Thereby Regulating Insulin Sensitivity and Weight Gain Cell, 143 (6), 897-910 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2010.11.032