The innate immune kinase TBK1 (TANK-binding kinase 1) responds to microbial-derived signals to initiate responses against viral and bacterial pathogens. More recent work implicates TBK1 in metabolism and tumorigenesis. The kinase mTOR (mechanistic target of rapamycin) integrates diverse environmental cues to control fundamental cellular processes. Our prior work demonstrated in cells that TBK1 phosphorylates mTOR (on S2159) to increase mTORC1 and mTORC2 catalytic activity and signaling. Here we investigate a role for TBK1-mTOR signaling in control of glucose metabolism in vivo. We find that mice with diet-induced obesity (DIO) but not lean mice bearing a whole-body “TBK1-resistant” Mtor S2159A knock-in allele (MtorA/A) display exacerbated hyperglycemia and systemic insulin resistance with no change in energy balance. Mechanistically, Mtor S2159A knock-in in DIO mice reduces mTORC1 and mTORC2 signaling in response to insulin and innate immune agonists, reduces anti-inflammatory gene expression in adipose tissue, and blunts anti-inflammatory macrophage M2 polarization, phenotypes shared by mice with tissue-specific inactivation of TBK1 or mTOR complexes. Tissues from DIO mice display elevated TBK1 activity and mTOR S2159 phosphorylation relative to lean mice. We propose a model whereby obesity-associated signals increase TBK1 activity and mTOR phosphorylation, which boost mTORC1 and mTORC2 signaling in parallel to the insulin pathway, thereby attenuating insulin resistance to improve glycemic control during diet-induced obesity.

This article contains supplementary material online at https://doi.org/10.2337/figshare.20496951.

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