In using Western blot analysis with antibodies raised against recombinant pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase (PDK) isoforms PDK2 and PDK4, this study demonstrates selective PDK isoform switching in specific skeletal muscle types in response to high-fat feeding that is associated with altered regulation of PDK activity by pyruvate. The administration of a diet high in saturated fats led to stable (approximately 2-fold) increases in PDK activities in both a typical slow-twitch (soleus [SOL]) muscle and a typical fast-twitch (anterior tibialis [AT]) muscle. Western blot analysis revealed that high-fat feeding significantly increased (approximately 2-fold; P < 0.001) PDK4 protein expression in SOL, with a modest (1.3-fold) increase in PDK2 protein expression. The relative increase in PDK4 protein expression in SOL was associated with a 7.6-fold increase in the pyruvate concentration that was required to elicit a 50% active pyruvate dehydrogenase complex, which indicates a marked decrease in the sensitivity of PDK to inhibition by pyruvate. In AT muscle, high-fat feeding elicited comparable (1.5- to 1.7-fold) increases (P < 0.05) in PDK4 and PDK2 protein expression. Loss of sensitivity of PDK to inhibition by pyruvate was less marked. The data suggest that a positive correlation exists between increases in PDK4 expression and the propensity with which muscles use lipid-derived fuels as respiratory substrates rather than with the degree of insulin resistance induced in skeletal muscles by high-fat feeding. In conclusion, high-fat feeding leads to selective upregulation of PDK4 expression in slow-twitch muscle in response to high-fat feeding in vivo, which is associated with a pronounced loss of sensitivity of PDK activity to acute inhibition by pyruvate. Thus, increased PDK4 expression may underlie the stable modification of the regulatory characteristics of PDK observed in slow-twitch muscle in response to high-fat feeding.

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