Focal adhesion kinase negatively regulates neuronal insulin resistance

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Focal adhesion kinase (FAK), a non-receptor protein kinase, is known to be a phosphatidyl inositol 3-kinase (PI3K) pathway activator and thus widely implicated in regulation of cell survival and cancer. In recent years FAK has also been strongly implicated as a crucial regulator of insulin resistance in peripheral tissues like skeletal muscle and liver, where decrease in its expression/activity has been shown to lead to insulin resistance. However, in the present study we report an altogether different role of FAK in regulation of insulin/PI3K signaling in neurons, the post-mitotic cells. An aberrant increase in FAK tyrosine phosphorylation was observed in insulin resistant Neuro-2a (N2A) cells. Downregulation of FAK expression utilizing RNAi mediated gene silencing in insulin resistant N2A cells completely ameliorated the impaired insulin/PI3K signaling and glucose uptake. FAK silencing in primary cortical neurons also showed marked enhancement in glucose uptake. The results thus suggest that in neurons FAK acts as a negative regulator of insulin/PI3K signaling. Interestingly, the available literature also demonstrates cell-type specific functions of FAK in neurons. FAK that is well known for its cell survival effects has been shown to be involved in neurodegeneration. Along with these previous reports, present findings highlight a novel and critical role of FAK in neurons. Moreover, as this implicates differential regulation of insulin/PI3K pathway by FAK in peripheral tissues and neuronal cells, it strongly suggests precaution while considering FAK modulators as possible therapeutics. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.

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Gupta, A., Bisht, B., & Dey, C. S. (2012). Focal adhesion kinase negatively regulates neuronal insulin resistance. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular Basis of Disease, 1822(6), 1030–1037.

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