Strong associations exist between branched chain amino acids (BCAA) and dysregulated glucose and lipid metabolism, but underlying mechanisms are not well understood. One factor contributing to elevated BCAA in obesity is inhibitory phosphorylation of the branched chain keto-acid dehydrogenase complex (BCKDH) in liver. We studied the impact of modulating the activity of the BCKDH kinase (BDK) and phosphatase (PPM1K) on amino acid, glucose and lipid metabolism in Zucker fatty rats (ZFR). Daily administration of a selective inhibitor of BDK, BT2 (, IP), for one week or expression of a recombinant adenovirus overexpressing PPM1K significantly lowered BCAA and branched chain keto acid (BCKA) levels in ZFR. Remarkably, these effects were accompanied by strong lowering of liver triacylglycerides and improved glucose tolerance in the absence of weight loss. Proteomics analysis of liver samples from these studies revealed that both inhibition of BDK with BT2 and adenoviral mediated overexpression of PPM1K results in reduced phosphorylation of the lipogenic enzyme ATP-citrate lyase (ACL) on its regulatory serine 454. Phosphorylation of ACL on this site is activating. Sequence analysis revealed the presence of a canonical BDK phosphorylation motif surrounding ser454 in ACL and incubation of ACL with purified BDK resulted in ACL phosphorylation in vitro. Furthermore, adenovirus-mediated overexpression of BDK increased ACL phosphorylation and activated de novo lipogenesis in liver of lean Wistar rats. Together these studies reveal a novel regulatory function for BDK and PPM1K in integration of BCAA and lipid metabolism. Moreover, we show that modulation of this node provides broad protection against metabolic abnormalities associated with obesity.


P.J. White: None. R.W. McGarrah: None. P.A. Grimsrud: None. W. Yang: None. G. Zhang: None. J.M. Haldeman: None. M. Arlotto: None. O. Ilkayeva: None. R.M. Wynn: None. D.T. Chuang: None. C.B. Newgard: Advisory Panel; Self; Eli Lilly and Company. Research Support; Self; Eli Lilly and Company.

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