Insulin receptor substrate (IRS)-1 and IRS-2, which mediate phosphatidylinositol (PI) 3-kinase activation, play essential roles in insulin-induced translocation of GLUT4 and in glycogen synthesis. In this study, we investigated the process of PI 3-kinase activation via binding with IRS-1 and -2 in liver, muscle, and fat of high-fat-fed rats, a model of insulin-resistant diabetes. In the liver of high-fat-fed rats, insulin increased the PI 3-kinase regulatory subunit p85alpha and the PI 3-kinase activities associated with IRS-1 3.6- and 2.4-fold, and with IRS-2, 4.7- and 3.0-fold, respectively, compared with those in control rats. The tyrosine phosphorylation levels of IRS-1 and IRS-2 were not significantly altered, however. In contrast with the liver, tyrosine phosphorylation levels and associated PI 3-kinase proteins and activities were decreased in the muscle and adipose tissue of high-fat-fed rats. Thus, high-fat feeding appears to cause insulin resistance in the liver by a mechanism different from the impaired PI 3-kinase activation observed in muscle and adipose tissue. Taking into consideration that hepatic PI 3-kinase activation is severely impaired in obese diabetic models such as Zucker fatty rats, it is possible that the mechanism by which a high-fat diet causes insulin resistance is quite different from that associated with obesity and overeating due to abnormality in the leptin system. This is the first report to show increased PI 3-kinase activation by insulin in an insulin-resistant diabetic animal model. These findings may be important for understanding the mechanism of insulin resistance in human NIDDM, since a high-fat diet is considered to be one of the major factors exacerbating insulin insensitivity in humans.

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