Ectopic expression of activated protein kinase B (PKB) induces the differentiation of confluent 3T3-L1 preadipocytes into adipocytes. PKB is regulated by the lipid products of phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI 3-kinase), phosphatidylinositol-3,4-bisphosphate [PI(3,4)P2], and phosphatidylinositol-3,4,5-trisphosphate [PI(3,4,5)P3]. However, the relative contribution of each 3-phosphorylated phosphoinositide species in activating PKB remains unclear. Treatment of intact 3T3-L1 preadipocytes with synthetic 3-phosphorylated phosphoinositides revealed that only PI(3,4)P2 stimulated PKB activity. PKB was also activated by insulin, in a dose- and time-dependent manner. This activation was associated with an isolated rise in PI(3,4,5)P3, without any detectable change in PI(3,4)P2, demonstrating that this lipid was sufficient to activate PKB. Wortmannin and LY294002, inhibitors of PI 3-kinase, reduced insulin-dependent activation of PKB, whereas rapamycin, an inhibitor of p70 S6 kinase, had no effect. Platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), which is not adipogenic, stimulated the production of both 3-phosphorylated phosphoinositide species, and this was associated with a greater activation of PKB than that observed with insulin. A low dose of PDGF (1 ng/ml), which increased the production of only PI(3,4,5)P3 and mirrored the insulin effect, was unable to induce adipocyte differentiation. In summary, insulin and PDGF differ with respect to the accumulation of 3-phosphorylated phosphoinositides and to PKB activation in 3T3-L1 preadipocytes, but these responses do not themselves explain why insulin, but not PDGF, is adipogenic.

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