Insulin signaling is essential for the maintenance of glucose homeostasis. ROCK2 has been shown to participate in insulin signaling and glucose metabolism in cultured cell lines. However, the in vivo function of ROCK2 in muscle remains to be elucidated. To explore the physiological role of muscle ROCK2 in the regulation of whole-body glucose homeostasis and insulin sensitivity in vivo, mice lacking ROCK2 in skeletal muscle selectively (myogenic-Cre; ROCK2lox/lox) were studied. Here we show that muscle-specific ROCK1-deficient mice displayed insulin resistance, as revealed by the failure of blood glucose levels to decrease after insulin injection. However, glucose tolerance was normal in the absence of muscle-specific ROCK2. These effects were independent of changes in adiposity. To determine the mechanism(s) by which muscle-specific deletion of ROCK2 causes insulin resistance, we measured the ability of insulin to activate downstream distal pathways in skeletal muscle. Insulin-stimulated IRS-1 tyrosine phosphorylation in skeletal muscle was markedly reduced by ∼80% in myogenic-Cre; ROCK2lox/lox mice compared with control (ROCK2lox/lox) mice. Concurrently, impaired insulin-induced phosphorylation of Akt, AS160, GSK, and S6K was found when ROCK2 was specifically deleted in muscle. Of pathological significance, ROCK2 activity in skeletal muscle was markedly decreased in obese type 2 diabetic mice in response to insulin, along with an impairment of IRS-1 phosphorylation. These data suggest that ROCK2 deficiency results in systemic insulin resistance by impairing insulin signaling in skeletal muscle, at the level of IRS-1. Thus, our results identify ROCK2 as a novel regulator of glucose homeostasis and insulin sensitivity in vivo, which could lead to new treatment approaches for obesity and type 2 diabetes.
H. Kim: None. R.M. Pereira: None. A.G. Uner: None. H. Lee: None. Y. Kim: None.