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1.  Pyruvate Dehydrogenase Kinase 4 
Diabetes  2008;57(9):2272-2279.
OBJECTIVE—Pyruvate dehydrogenase complex (PDC) serves as the metabolic switch between glucose and fatty acid utilization. PDC activity is inhibited by PDC kinase (PDK). PDC shares the same substrate, i.e., pyruvate, as glyceroneogenesis, a pathway controlling fatty acid release from white adipose tissue (WAT). Thiazolidinediones activate glyceroneogenesis. We studied the regulation by rosiglitazone of PDK2 and PDK4 isoforms and tested the hypothesis that glyceroneogenesis could be controlled by PDK.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS—Rosiglitazone was administered to Zucker fa/fa rats, and then PDK4 and PDK2 mRNAs were examined in subcutaneous, periepididymal, and retroperitoneal WAT, liver, and muscle by real-time RT-PCR. Cultured WAT explants from humans and rats and 3T3-F442A adipocytes were rosiglitazone-treated before analyses of PDK2 and PDK4 mRNA and protein. Small interfering RNA (siRNA) was transfected by electroporation. Glyceroneogenesis was determined using [1-14C]pyruvate incorporation into lipids.
RESULTS—Rosiglitazone increased PDK4 mRNA in all WAT depots but not in liver and muscle. PDK2 transcript was not affected. This isoform selectivity was also found in ex vivo–treated explants. In 3T3-F442A adipocytes, Pdk4 expression was strongly and selectively induced by rosiglitazone in a direct and transcriptional manner, with a concentration required for half-maximal effect at 1 nmol/l. The use of dichloroacetic acid or leelamine, two PDK inhibitors, or a specific PDK4 siRNA demonstrated that PDK4 participated in glyceroneogenesis, therefore altering nonesterified fatty acid release in both basal and rosiglitazone-activated conditions.
CONCLUSIONS—These data show that PDK4 upregulation in adipocytes participates in the hypolipidemic effect of thiazolidinediones through modulation of glyceroneogenesis.
PMCID: PMC2518477  PMID: 18519799
2.  Additive effects of clofibric acid and pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase isoenzyme 4 (PDK4) deficiency on hepatic steatosis in mice fed a high-saturated fat diet 
The Febs Journal  2012;279(10):1883-1893.
Although improving glucose metabolism by inhibition of pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase 4 (PDK4) might prove beneficial in the treatment of type 2 diabetes or diet-induced obesity, it might induce detrimental effects by inhibiting fatty acid oxidation. PPARα agonists are often used to treat dyslipidemia in patients, especially in type 2 diabetes. Combinational treatment with a PDK4 inhibitor and PPARα agonists may prove beneficial. However, PPARα agonists may be less effective in the presence of a PDK4 inhibitor because PPARα agonists induce PDK4 expression. In the present study, the effects of clofibric acid, a PPARα agonist, on blood and liver lipids were determined in wild type and PDK4 knockout mice fed a high fat diet. As expected, treatment of wild type mice with clofibric acid resulted in less body weight gain, smaller epididymal fat pads, greater insulin sensitivity, and lower levels of serum and liver triacylglycerol. Surprisingly, rather than decreasing the effectiveness of clofibric acid, PDK4 deficiency enhanced the beneficial effects of clofibric acid on hepatic steatosis, lowered blood glucose levels, and did not prevent the positive effects of clofibric acid on serum triacylglycerols and free fatty acids. The metabolic effects of clofibric acid are therefore independent of the induction of PDK4 expression. The additive beneficial effects on hepatic steatosis may be due to induction of increased capacity for fatty acid oxidation and partial uncoupling of oxidative phosphorylation by clofibric acid and a reduction in the capacity for fatty acid synthesis by PDK4 deficiency.
PMCID: PMC3334477  PMID: 22429297
Diet-induced obesity; Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor α; Pyruvate dehydrogenase complex; Pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase; Clofibric acid
3.  Genetic Inactivation of Pyruvate Dehydrogenase Kinases Improves Hepatic Insulin Resistance Induced Diabetes 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e71997.
Pyruvate dehydrogenase kinases (PDK1-4) play a critical role in the inhibition of the mitochondrial pyruvate dehydrogenase complex especially when blood glucose levels are low and pyruvate can be conserved for gluconeogenesis. Under diabetic conditions, the Pdk genes, particularly Pdk4, are often induced, and the elevation of the Pdk4 gene expression has been implicated in the increased gluconeogenesis in the liver and the decreased glucose utilization in the peripheral tissues. However, there is no direct evidence yet to show to what extent that the dysregulation of hepatic Pdk genes attributes to hyperglycemia and insulin resistance in vivo. To address this question, we crossed Pdk2 or Pdk4 null mice with a diabetic model that is deficient in hepatic insulin receptor substrates 1 and 2 (Irs1/2). Metabolic analyses reveal that deletion of the Pdk4 gene had better improvement in hyperglycemia and glucose tolerance than knockout of the Pdk2 gene whereas the Pdk2 gene deletion showed better insulin tolerance as compared to the Pdk4 gene inactivation on the Irs1/2 knockout genetic background. To examine the specific hepatic effects of Pdks on diabetes, we also knocked down the Pdk2 or Pdk4 gene using specific shRNAs. The data also indicate that the Pdk4 gene knockdown led to better glucose tolerance than the Pdk2 gene knockdown. In conclusion, our data suggest that hepatic Pdk4 may be critically involved in the pathogenesis of diabetes.
PMCID: PMC3733847  PMID: 23940800
4.  miR-375 Targets 3′-Phosphoinositide–Dependent Protein Kinase-1 and Regulates Glucose-Induced Biological Responses in Pancreatic β-Cells 
Diabetes  2008;57(10):2708-2717.
OBJECTIVE—MicroRNAs are short, noncoding RNAs that regulate gene expression. We hypothesized that the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI 3-kinase) cascade known to be important in β-cell physiology could be regulated by microRNAs. Here, we focused on the pancreas-specific miR-375 as a potential regulator of its predicted target 3′-phosphoinositide–dependent protein kinase-1 (PDK1), and we analyzed its implication in the response of insulin-producing cells to elevation of glucose levels.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS—We used insulinoma-1E cells to analyze the effects of miR-375 on PDK1 protein level and downstream signaling using Western blotting, glucose-induced insulin gene expression using quantitative RT-PCR, and DNA synthesis by measuring thymidine incorporation. Moreover, we analyzed the effect of glucose on miR-375 expression in both INS-1E cells and primary rat islets. Finally, miR-375 expression in isolated islets was analyzed in diabetic Goto-Kakizaki (GK) rats.
RESULTS—We found that miR-375 directly targets PDK1 and reduces its protein level, resulting in decreased glucose-stimulatory action on insulin gene expression and DNA synthesis. Furthermore, glucose leads to a decrease in miR-375 precursor level and a concomitant increase in PDK1 protein. Importantly, regulation of miR-375 expression by glucose occurs in primary rat islets as well. Finally, miR-375 expression was found to be decreased in fed diabetic GK rat islets.
CONCLUSIONS—Our findings provide evidence for a role of a pancreatic-specific microRNA, miR-375, in the regulation of PDK1, a key molecule in PI 3-kinase signaling in pancreatic β-cells. The effects of glucose on miR-375 are compatible with the idea that miR-375 is involved in glucose regulation of insulin gene expression and β-cell growth.
PMCID: PMC2551681  PMID: 18591395
5.  Transcriptional Regulation of Pyruvate Dehydrogenase Kinase 
Diabetes & Metabolism Journal  2012;36(5):328-335.
The pyruvate dehydrogenase complex (PDC) activity is crucial to maintains blood glucose and ATP levels, which largely depends on the phosphorylation status by pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase (PDK) isoenzymes. Although it has been reported that PDC is phosphorylated and inactivated by PDK2 and PDK4 in metabolically active tissues including liver, skeletal muscle, heart, and kidney during starvation and diabetes, the precise mechanisms by which expression of PDK2 and PDK4 are transcriptionally regulated still remains unclear. Insulin represses the expression of PDK2 and PDK4 via phosphorylation of FOXO through PI3K/Akt signaling pathway. Several nuclear hormone receptors activated due to fasting or increased fat supply, including peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors, glucocorticoid receptors, estrogen-related receptors, and thyroid hormone receptors, also participate in the up-regulation of PDK2 and PDK4; however, the endogenous ligands that bind those nuclear receptors have not been identified. It has been recently suggested that growth hormone, adiponectin, epinephrine, and rosiglitazone also control the expression of PDK4 in tissue-specific manners. In this review, we discuss several factors involved in the expressional regulation of PDK2 and PDK4, and introduce current studies aimed at providing a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms that underlie the development of metabolic diseases such as diabetes.
PMCID: PMC3486978  PMID: 23130316
Insulin resistance; Pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase; Receptors, cytoplasmic and nuclear; Transcriptional regulation
6.  Therapeutic effects of adropin on glucose tolerance and substrate utilization in diet-induced obese mice with insulin resistance 
Molecular Metabolism  2015;4(4):310-324.
The peptide hormone adropin regulates fuel selection preferences in skeletal muscle under fed and fasted conditions. Here, we investigated whether adropin treatment can ameliorate the dysregulation of fuel substrate metabolism, and improve aspects of glucose homeostasis in diet-induced obesity (DIO) with insulin resistance.
DIO C57BL/6 mice maintained on a 60% kcal fat diet received five intraperitoneal (i.p.) injections of the bioactive peptide adropin34-76 (450 nmol/kg/i.p.). Following treatment, glucose tolerance and whole body insulin sensitivity were assessed and indirect calorimetry was employed to analyze whole body substrate oxidation preferences. Biochemical assays performed in skeletal muscle samples analyzed insulin signaling action and substrate oxidation.
Adropin treatment improved glucose tolerance, enhanced insulin action and augmented metabolic flexibility towards glucose utilization. In muscle, adropin treatment increased insulin-induced Akt phosphorylation and cell-surface expression of GLUT4 suggesting sensitization of insulin signaling pathways. Reduced incomplete fatty acid oxidation and increased CoA/acetyl-CoA ratio suggested improved mitochondrial function. The underlying mechanisms appear to involve suppressions of carnitine palmitoyltransferase-1B (CPT-1B) and CD36, two key enzymes in fatty acid utilization. Adropin treatment activated pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH), a rate-limiting enzyme in glucose oxidation, and downregulated PDH kinase-4 (PDK-4) that inhibits PDH. Along with these changes, adropin treatment downregulated peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma coactivator-1α that regulates expression of Cpt1b, Cd36 and Pdk4.
Adropin treatment of DIO mice enhances glucose tolerance, ameliorates insulin resistance and promotes preferential use of carbohydrate over fat in fuel selection. Skeletal muscle is a key organ in mediating adropin's whole-body effects, sensitizing insulin signaling pathways and altering fuel selection preference to favor glucose while suppressing fat oxidation.
Graphical abstract
PMCID: PMC4354928  PMID: 25830094
Adropin; Glucose metabolism; Fatty acid metabolism; Insulin action; Metabolic flexibility; Mitochondrial function
7.  Diabetes disease progression in Goto-Kakizaki rats: effects of salsalate treatment 
This study investigates the antidiabetic effects of salsalate on disease progression of diabetes in non-obese diabetic Goto-Kakizaki (GK) rats, an experimental model of type 2 diabetes. Salsalate was formulated in rat chow (1,000 ppm) and used to feed rats from 5 to 21 weeks of age. At 5 weeks of age, GK and Wistar (WIS) control rats were subdivided into four groups, each composed of six rats: GK rats with standard diet (GK-C); GK rats with salsalate-containing diet (GK-S); WIS rats with standard diet (WIS-C); and WIS rats with salsalate-containing diet (WIS-S). The GK-C rats (167.2±11.6 mg/dL) showed higher blood glucose concentrations than WIS-C rats (133.7±4.9 mg/dL, P<0.001) at the beginning of the experiment, and had substantially elevated blood glucose from an age of 15 weeks until sacrifice at 21 weeks (341.0±133.6 mg/dL). The GK-S rats showed an almost flat profile of blood glucose from 4 weeks (165.1±11.0 mg/dL) until sacrifice at 21 weeks of age (203.7±22.2 mg/dL). While this difference in blood glucose between 4 and 21 weeks in GK-S animals was significant, blood glucose at 21 weeks was significantly lower in GK-S compared to GK-C animals. At sacrifice, salsalate decreased plasma insulin (GK-S =1.0±0.3; GK-C =2.0±0.3 ng/mL, P<0.001) and increased plasma adiponectin concentrations (GK-S =15.9±0.7; GK-C =9.7±2.0 μg/mL, P<0.001). Salsalate also lowered total cholesterol in GK-S rats (96.1±8.5 mg/dL) compared with GK-C rats (128.0±11.4 mg/dL, P<0.001). Inflammation-related genes (Ifit1 and Iigp1) exhibited much higher mRNA expression in GK-C rats than WIS-C rats in liver, adipose, and muscle tissues, while salsalate decreased the Ifit1 and Iigp1 mRNA only in adipose tissue. These results suggest that salsalate acts to both increase adiponectin and decrease adipose tissue-based inflammation while preventing type 2 diabetes disease progression in GK rats.
PMCID: PMC4128793  PMID: 25120374
type 2 diabetes; salicylates; inflammation; adiponectin
8.  The Role of FOXO and PPAR Transcription Factors in Diet-Mediated Inhibition of PDC Activation and Carbohydrate Oxidation During Exercise in Humans and the Role of Pharmacological Activation of PDC in Overriding These Changes 
Diabetes  2012;61(5):1017-1024.
High-fat feeding inhibits pyruvate dehydrogenase complex (PDC)–controlled carbohydrate (CHO) oxidation, which contributes to muscle insulin resistance. We aimed to reveal molecular changes underpinning this process in resting and exercising humans. We also tested whether pharmacological activation of PDC overrides these diet-induced changes. Healthy males consumed a control diet (CD) and on two further occasions an isocaloric high-fat diet (HFD). After each diet, subjects cycled for 60 min after intravenous infusion with saline (CD and HFD) or dichloroacetate (HFD+DCA). Quadriceps muscle biopsies obtained before and after 10 and 60 min of exercise were used to estimate CHO use, PDC activation, and mRNAs associated with insulin, fat, and CHO signaling. Compared with CD, HFD increased resting pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase 2 (PDK2), PDK4, forkhead box class O transcription factor 1 (FOXO1), and peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor transcription factor α (PPARα) mRNA and reduced PDC activation. Exercise increased PDC activation and whole-body CHO use in HFD, but to a lower extent than in CD. Meanwhile PDK4 and FOXO1, but not PPARα or PDK2, mRNA remained elevated. HFD+DCA activated PDC throughout and restored whole-body CHO use during exercise. FOXO1 appears to play a role in HFD-mediated muscle PDK4 upregulation and inhibition of PDC and CHO oxidation in humans. Also, pharmacological activation of PDC restores HFD-mediated inhibition of CHO oxidation during exercise.
PMCID: PMC3331777  PMID: 22315317
9.  Starvation and Diabetes Reduce the Amount of Pyruvate Dehydrogenase Phosphatase in Rat Heart and Kidney 
Diabetes  2003;52(6):1371-1376.
The pyruvate dehydrogenase complex (PDC) is inactivated in many tissues during starvation and diabetes to conserve three-carbon compounds for gluconeogenesis. This is achieved by an increase in the extent of PDC phosphorylation caused in part by increased pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase (PDK) activity due to increased PDK expression. This study examined whether altered pyruvate dehydrogenase phosphatase (PDP) expression also contributes to changes in the phosphorylation state of PDC during starvation and diabetes. Of the two PDP isoforms expressed in mammalian tissues, the Ca2+-sensitive isoform (PDP1) is highly expressed in rat heart, brain, and testis and is detectable but less abundant in rat muscle, lung, kidney, liver, and spleen. The Ca2+-insensitive isoform (PDP2) is abundant in rat kidney, liver, heart, and brain and is detectable in spleen and lung. Starvation and streptozotocin-induced diabetes cause decreases in PDP2 mRNA abundance, PDP2 protein amount, and PDP activity in rat heart and kidney. Refeeding and insulin treatment effectively reversed these effects of starvation and diabetes, respectively. These findings indicate that opposite changes in expression of specific PDK and PDP isoenzymes contribute to hyperphosphorylation and therefore inactivation of the PDC in heart and kidney during starvation and diabetes.
PMCID: PMC2147665  PMID: 12765946
10.  Peroxisome proliferator activated receptor α (PPARα) and PPAR gamma coactivator (PGC-1α) induce carnitine palmitoyltransferase IA (CPT-1A) via independent gene elements 
Long chain fatty acids and pharmacologic ligands for the peroxisome proliferator activated receptor alpha (PPARα) activate expression of genes involved in fatty acid and glucose oxidation including carnitine palmitoyltransferase-1A (CPT-1A) and pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase 4 (PDK4). CPT-1A catalyzes the transfer of long chain fatty acids from acyl-CoA to carnitine for translocation across the mitochondrial membranes and is an initiating step in the mitochondrial oxidation of long chain fatty acids. PDK4 phosphorylates and inhibits the pyruvate dehydrogenase complex (PDC) which catalyzes the conversion of pyruvate to acetyl-CoA in the glucose oxidation pathway. The activity of CPT-1A is modulated both by transcriptional changes as well as by malonyl-CoA inhibition. In the liver, CPT-1A and PDK4 gene expression are induced by starvation, high fat diets and PPARα ligands. Here, we characterized a binding site for PPARα in the second intron of the rat CPT-1A gene. Our studies indicated that WY14643 and long chain fatty acids induce CPT-1A gene expression through this element. In addition, we found that mutation of the PPARα binding site reduced the expression of CPT-1A-luciferase vectors in the liver of fasted rats. We had demonstrated previously that CPT-1A was stimulated by the peroxisome proliferator activated receptor gamma coactivator (PGC-1α) via sequences in the first intron of the rat CPT-1A gene. Surprisingly, PGC-1α did not enhance CPT-1A transcription through the PPARα binding site in the second intron. Following knockdown of PGC-1α with short hairpin RNA, the CPT-1A and PDK4 genes remained responsive to WY14643. Overall, our studies indicated that PPARα and PGC-1α stimulate transcription of the CPT-1A gene through different regions of the CPT-1A gene.
PMCID: PMC3160239  PMID: 20638986
Carnitine palmitoyltransferase-1A (CPT-1A); pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase (PDK); PPARα; PGC-1α
11.  Complex Regulation of PKCβ2 and PDK-1/AKT by ROCK2 in Diabetic Heart 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e86520.
The RhoA/ROCK pathway contributes to diabetic cardiomyopathy in part by promoting the sustained activation of PKCβ2 but the details of their interaction are unclear. The purpose of this study was to investigate if over-activation of ROCK in the diabetic heart leads to direct phosphorylation and activation of PKCβ2, and to determine if their interaction affects PDK-1/Akt signaling.
Regulation by ROCK of PKCβ2 and related kinases was investigated by Western blotting and co-immunoprecipitation in whole hearts and isolated cardiomyocytes from 12 to 14-week diabetic rats. Direct ROCK2 phosphorylation of PKCβ2 was examined in vitro. siRNA silencing was used to confirm role of ROCK2 in PKCβ2 phosphorylation in vascular smooth muscle cells cultured in high glucose. Furthermore, the effect of ROCK inhibition on GLUT4 translocation was determined in isolated cardiomyocytes by confocal microscopy.
Expression of ROCK2 and expression and phosphorylation of PKCβ2 were increased in diabetic hearts. A physical interaction between the two kinases was demonstrated by reciprocal immunoprecipitation, while ROCK2 directly phosphorylated PKCβ2 at T641 in vitro. ROCK2 siRNA in vascular smooth muscle cells or inhibition of ROCK in diabetic hearts reduced PKCβ2 T641 phosphorylation, and this was associated with attenuation of PKCβ2 activity. PKCβ2 also formed a complex with PDK-1 and its target AKT, and ROCK inhibition resulted in upregulation of the phosphorylation of PDK-1 and AKT, and increased translocation of glucose transporter 4 (GLUT4) to the plasma membrane in diabetic hearts.
This study demonstrates that over-activation of ROCK2 contributes to diabetic cardiomyopathy by multiple mechanisms, including direct phosphorylation and activation of PKCβ2 and interference with the PDK-1-mediated phosphorylation and activation of AKT and translocation of GLUT4. This suggests that ROCK2 is a critical node in the development of diabetic cardiomyopathy and may be an effective target to improve cardiac function in diabetes.
PMCID: PMC3896488  PMID: 24466133
12.  Low Muscle Glycogen and Elevated Plasma Free Fatty Acid Modify but Do Not Prevent Exercise-Induced PDH Activation in Human Skeletal Muscle 
Diabetes  2009;59(1):26-32.
To test the hypothesis that free fatty acid (FFA) and muscle glycogen modify exercise-induced regulation of PDH (pyruvate dehydrogenase) in human skeletal muscle through regulation of PDK4 expression.
On two occasions, healthy male subjects lowered (by exercise) muscle glycogen in one leg (LOW) relative to the contra-lateral leg (CON) the day before the experimental day. On the experimental days, plasma FFA was ensured normal or remained elevated by consuming breakfast rich (low FFA) or poor (high FFA) in carbohydrate, 2 h before performing 20 min of two-legged knee extensor exercise. Vastus lateralis biopsies were obtained before and after exercise.
PDK4 protein content was ∼2.2- and ∼1.5-fold higher in LOW than CON leg in high FFA and low FFA, respectively, and the PDK4 protein content in the CON leg was approximately twofold higher in high FFA than in low FFA. In all conditions, exercise increased PDHa (PDH in the active form) activity, resulting in similar levels in LOW leg in both trials and CON leg in high FFA, but higher level in CON leg in low FFA. PDHa activity was closely associated with the PDH-E1α phosphorylation level.
Muscle glycogen and plasma FFA attenuate exercise-induced PDH regulation in human skeletal muscle in a nonadditive manner. This might be through regulation of PDK4 expression. The activation of PDH by exercise independent of changes in muscle glycogen or plasma FFA suggests that exercise overrules FFA-mediated inhibition of PDH (i.e., carbohydrate oxidation), and this may thus be one mechanism behind the health-promoting effects of exercise.
PMCID: PMC2797931  PMID: 19833896
13.  A Combination of Nutriments Improves Mitochondrial Biogenesis and Function in Skeletal Muscle of Type 2 Diabetic Goto–Kakizaki Rats 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(6):e2328.
Recent evidence indicates that insulin resistance in skeletal muscle may be related to reduce mitochondrial number and oxidation capacity. However, it is not known whether increasing mitochondrial number and function improves insulin resistance. In the present study, we investigated the effects of a combination of nutrients on insulin resistance and mitochondrial biogenesis/function in skeletal muscle of type 2 diabetic Goto–Kakizaki rats.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We demonstrated that defect of glucose and lipid metabolism is associated with low mitochondrial content and reduced mitochondrial enzyme activity in skeletal muscle of the diabetic Goto-Kakizaki rats. The treatment of combination of R-α-lipoic acid, acetyl-L-carnitine, nicotinamide, and biotin effectively improved glucose tolerance, decreased the basal insulin secretion and the level of circulating free fatty acid (FFA), and prevented the reduction of mitochondrial biogenesis in skeletal muscle. The nutrients treatment also significantly increased mRNA levels of genes involved in lipid metabolism, including peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor-α (Pparα), peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor-δ (Pparδ), and carnitine palmitoyl transferase-1 (Mcpt-1) and activity of mitochondrial complex I and II in skeletal muscle. All of these effects of mitochondrial nutrients are comparable to that of the antidiabetic drug, pioglitazone. In addition, the treatment with nutrients, unlike pioglitazone, did not cause body weight gain.
These data suggest that a combination of mitochondrial targeting nutrients may improve skeletal mitochondrial dysfunction and exert hypoglycemic effects, without causing weight gain.
PMCID: PMC2391295  PMID: 18523557
14.  FOXO1-mediated Upregulation of Pyruvate Dehydrogenase Kinase-4 (PDK4) Decreases Glucose Oxidation and Impairs Right Ventricular Function in Pulmonary Hypertension: Therapeutic Benefits of Dichloroacetate 
Pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase (PDK) is activated in right ventricular hypertrophy (RVH), causing an increase in glycolysis relative to glucose oxidation that impairs RV function. The stimulus for PDK upregulation, its isoform specificity and the long-term effects of PDK inhibition are unknown. We hypothesize that FOXO1-mediated PDK4 upregulation causes bioenergetic impairment and RV dysfunction, which can be reversed by dichloroacetate.
Adult male Fawn-Hooded rats (FHR) with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) and RVH (age 6–12 months) were compared to age-matched controls. Cardiac glucose and fatty acid oxidation (GO, FAO) were measured at baseline and after acute dichloroacetate (1mM×40-minutes) in isolated working-hearts and in freshly dispersed RV myocytes. The effects of chronic dichloroacetate (0.75 g/L drinking water for 6 months) on cardiac output (CO) and exercise capacity were measured in vivo. Expression of PDK4 and its regulatory transcription factor, FOXO1, were also measured in FHR and RV specimens from PAH patients (n=10).
Microarray analysis of 168 genes related to glucose or FA metabolism showed >4-fold upregulation of PDK4, aldolase B and acyl-coenzyme A oxidase. FOXO1 was increased, in FHR RV whereas HIF-1α was unaltered. PDK4 expression was increased and the inactivated form of FOXO1 decreased in human PAH RV (P<0.01). PDH inhibition in RVH increased proton production and reduced GO’s contribution to the TCA cycle. Acutely, dichloroacetate reduced RV proton production and increased GO’s contribution (relative to FAO) to the TCA cycle and ATP production in FHR (P<0.01). Chronically dichloroacetate decreased PDK4 and FOXO1, thereby activating PDH and increasing GO in FHR. These metabolic changes increased CO (84±14 vs. 69±14 ml/min, P<0.05) and treadmill-walking distance (239±20 vs. 171±22 m, P<0.05).
Chronic dichloroacetate inhibits FOXO1-induced PDK4 upregulation and restores GO, leading to improved bioenergetics and RV function in RVH.
PMCID: PMC3584201  PMID: 23247844
glycolysis; HIF-1α; Aldolase B; FOXO3; acyl-coenzyme A oxidase 2
15.  Pharmacodynamic/Pharmacogenomic Modeling of Insulin Resistance Genes in Rat Muscle After Methylprednisolone Treatment: Exploring Regulatory Signaling Cascades 
Corticosteroids (CS) effects on insulin resistance related genes in rat skeletal muscle were studied. In our acute study, adrenalectomized (ADX) rats were given single doses of 50 mg/kg methylprednisolone (MPL) intravenously. In our chronic study, ADX rats were implanted with Alzet mini-pumps giving zero-order release rates of 0.3 mg/kg/h MPL and sacrificed at various times up to 7 days. Total RNA was extracted from gastrocnemius muscles and hybridized to Affymetrix GeneChips. Data mining and literature searches identified 6 insulin resistance related genes which exhibited complex regulatory pathways. Insulin receptor substrate-1 (IRS-1), uncoupling protein 3 (UCP3), pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase isoenzyme 4 (PDK4), fatty acid translocase (FAT) and glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase (GPAT) dynamic profiles were modeled with mutual effects by calculated nuclear drug-receptor complex (DR(N)) and transcription factors. The oscillatory feature of endothelin-1 (ET-1) expression was depicted by a negative feedback loop. These integrated models provide testable quantitative hypotheses for these regulatory cascades.
PMCID: PMC2733097  PMID: 19787081
corticosteroid; glucocorticoid; microarrays; mathematical modeling; insulin resistance
16.  Tyrosine Phosphorylation of Phosphoinositide-Dependent Kinase 1 by the Insulin Receptor Is Necessary for Insulin Metabolic Signaling 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2005;25(24):10803-10814.
In L6 myoblasts, insulin receptors with deletion of the C-terminal 43 amino acids (IRΔ43) exhibited normal autophosphorylation and IRS-1/2 tyrosine phosphorylation. The L6 cells expressing IRΔ43 (L6IRΔ43) also showed no insulin effect on glucose uptake and glycogen synthase, accompanied by a >80% decrease in insulin induction of 3-phosphoinositide-dependent protein kinase 1 (PDK-1) activity and tyrosine phosphorylation and of protein kinase B (PKB) phosphorylation at Thr308. Insulin induced the phosphatidylinositol 3 kinase-dependent coprecipitation of PDK-1 with wild-type IR (IRWT), but not IRΔ43. Based on overlay blotting, PDK-1 directly bound IRWT, but not IRΔ43. Insulin-activated IRWT, and not IRΔ43, phosphorylated PDK-1 at tyrosines 9, 373, and 376. The IR C-terminal 43-amino-acid peptide (C-terminal peptide) inhibited in vitro PDK-1 tyrosine phosphorylation by the IR. Tyr→Phe substitution prevented this inhibitory action. In the L6hIR cells, the C-terminal peptide coprecipitated with PDK-1 in an insulin-stimulated fashion. This peptide simultaneously impaired the insulin effect on PDK-1 coprecipitation with IRWT, on PDK-1 tyrosine phosphorylation, on PKB phosphorylation at Thr308, and on glucose uptake. Upon insulin exposure, PDK-1 membrane persistence was significantly reduced in L6IRΔ43 compared to control cells. In L6 cells expressing IRWT, the C-terminal peptide also impaired insulin-dependent PDK-1 membrane persistence. Thus, PDK-1 directly binds to the insulin receptor, followed by PDK-1 activation and insulin metabolic effects.
PMCID: PMC1316974  PMID: 16314505
17.  Role of Pyruvate Dehydrogenase Kinase 4 in Regulation of Blood Glucose Levels 
Korean Diabetes Journal  2010;34(5):274-283.
In the well-fed state a relatively high activity of the pyruvate dehydrogenase complex (PDC) reduces blood glucose levels by directing the carbon of pyruvate into the citric acid cycle. In the fasted state a relatively low activity of the PDC helps maintain blood glucose levels by conserving pyruvate and other three carbon compounds for gluconeogenesis. The relative activities of the pyruvate dehydrogenase kinases (PDKs) and the opposing pyruvate dehydrogenase phosphatases determine the activity of PDC in the fed and fasted states. Up regulation of PDK4 is largely responsible for inactivation of PDC in the fasted state. PDK4 knockout mice have lower fasting blood glucose levels than wild type mice, proving that up regulation of PDK4 is important for normal glucose homeostasis. In type 2 diabetes, up regulation of PDK4 also inactivates PDC, which promotes gluconeogenesis and thereby contributes to the hyperglycemia characteristic of this disease. When fed a high fat diet, wild type mice develop fasting hyperglycemia but PDK4 knockout mice remain euglycemic, proving that up regulation of PDK4 contributes to hyperglycemia in diabetes. These finding suggest PDK4 inhibitors might prove useful in the treatment of type 2 diabetes.
PMCID: PMC2972486  PMID: 21076574
Diabetes; Fasting; Glucose; Ketone bodies; Pyruvate dehydrogenase complex; Pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase; Steatosis
18.  Intralipid Decreases Apolipoprotein M Levels and Insulin Sensitivity in Rats 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e105681.
Apolipoprotein M (ApoM) is a constituent of high-density lipoproteins (HDL). It plays a crucial role in HDL-mediated reverse cholesterol transport. Insulin resistance is associated with decreased ApoM levels.
To assess the effects of increased free fatty acids (FFAs) levels after short-term Intralipid infusion on insulin sensitivity and hepatic ApoM gene expression.
Adult male Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats infused with 20% Intralipid solution for 6 h. Glucose infusion rates (GIR) were determined by hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp during Intralipid infusion and plasma FFA levels were measured by colorimetry. Rats were sacrificed after Intralipid treatment and livers were sampled. Human embryonic kidney 293T cells were transfected with a lentivirus mediated human apoM overexpression system. Goto-Kakizaki (GK) rats were injected with the lentiviral vector and insulin tolerance was assessed. Gene expression was assessed by real-time RT-PCR and PCR array.
Intralipid increased FFAs by 17.6 folds and GIR was decreased by 27.1% compared to the control group. ApoM gene expression was decreased by 40.4% after Intralipid infusion. PPARβ/δ expression was not changed by Intralipid. Whereas the mRNA levels of Acaca, Acox1, Akt1, V-raf murine sarcoma 3611 viral oncogene homolog, G6pc, Irs2, Ldlr, Map2k1, pyruvate kinase and RBC were significantly increased in rat liver after Intralipid infusion. The Mitogen-activated protein kinase 8 (MAPK8) was significantly down-regulated in 293T cells overexpressing ApoM. Overexpression of human ApoM in GK rats could enhance the glucose-lowering effect of exogenous insulin.
These results suggest that Intralipid could decrease hepatic ApoM levels. ApoM overexpression may have a potential role in improving insulin resistance in vivo and modulating apoM expression might be a future therapeutic strategy against insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes.
PMCID: PMC4140822  PMID: 25144649
19.  Metabolic Adaptation Follows Contractile Dysfunction in the Heart of Obese Zucker Rats Fed a High Fat “Western” Diet 
Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.)  2010;18(10):1895-1901.
The normal heart responds to changes in its metabolic milieu by changing relative oxidation rates of energy providing substrates. We hypothesized that this flexibility is lost when genetically obese rats are fed a high caloric, high fat ‘Western’ diet (WD).
Male Zucker obese (ZO) and Zucker lean (ZL) rats were fed either control or WD composed of 10 kcal% and 45 kcal% fat respectively for 7 or 28 days. Cardiac triglycerides and mRNA transcript levels were measured in situ. Substrate oxidation rates and cardiac power were measured ex vivo. Hearts from ZO rats fed WD for 7 days showed decreased cardiac power and increased cardiac triglyceride content, but no change in oleate oxidation rates or mRNA transcript levels of pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase-4 (PDK-4), uncoupling protein-3 (UCP-3), mitochondrial (MTE-1) and cytosolic thioesterase 1(CTE-1). When fed WD for 28 days, ZO rats showed no further decrease in cardiac power and no further increase in intramyocardial triglyceride levels compared to ZO rats fed the same diet for 7 days only, but did show significantly increased oleate oxidation rates and transcript levels of CTE-1, MTE-1, PDK-4 and UCP-3. In contrast, hearts from ZL rats fed WD showed increased rates of oleate oxidation and increased transcript levels of the fatty acid responsive genes investigated, and no further deterioration of contractile function.
We conclude that exposing a genetic model of obesity to the nutrient stress of WD results in an early reversible loss of metabolic flexibility of the heart which is accompanied by contractile dysfunction.
PMCID: PMC3623948  PMID: 20111021
diet; rat model of obesity; cardiac dysfunction; fatty acid metabolism
20.  Iron Overload and Diabetes Risk: A Shift From Glucose to Fatty Acid Oxidation and Increased Hepatic Glucose Production in a Mouse Model of Hereditary Hemochromatosis 
Diabetes  2010;60(1):80-87.
Excess tissue iron levels are a risk factor for diabetes, but the mechanisms underlying the association are incompletely understood. We previously published that mice and humans with a form of hereditary iron overload, hemochromatosis, exhibit loss of β-cell mass. This effect by itself is not sufficient, however, to fully explain the diabetes risk phenotype associated with all forms of iron overload.
We therefore examined glucose and fatty acid metabolism and hepatic glucose production in vivo and in vitro in a mouse model of hemochromatosis in which the gene most often mutated in the human disease, HFE, has been deleted (Hfe−/−).
Although Hfe−/− mice exhibit increased glucose uptake in skeletal muscle, glucose oxidation is decreased and the ratio of fatty acid to glucose oxidation is increased. On a high-fat diet, the Hfe−/− mice exhibit increased fatty acid oxidation and are hypermetabolic. The decreased glucose oxidation in skeletal muscle is due to decreased pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) enzyme activity related, in turn, to increased expression of PDH kinase 4 (pdk4). Increased substrate recycling to liver contributes to elevated hepatic glucose production in the Hfe−/− mice.
Increased hepatic glucose production and metabolic inflexibility, both of which are characteristics of type 2 diabetes, may contribute to the risk of diabetes with excessive tissue iron.
PMCID: PMC3012200  PMID: 20876715
21.  PGC-1α Coactivates PDK4 Gene Expression via the Orphan Nuclear Receptor ERRα: a Mechanism for Transcriptional Control of Muscle Glucose Metabolism 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2005;25(24):10684-10694.
The transcriptional coactivator PGC-1α is a key regulator of energy metabolism, yet little is known about its role in control of substrate selection. We found that physiological stimuli known to induce PGC-1α expression in skeletal muscle coordinately upregulate the expression of pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase 4 (PDK4), a negative regulator of glucose oxidation. Forced expression of PGC-1α in C2C12 myotubes induced PDK4 mRNA and protein expression. PGC-1α-mediated activation of PDK4 expression was shown to occur at the transcriptional level and was mapped to a putative nuclear receptor binding site. Gel shift assays demonstrated that the PGC-1α-responsive element bound the estrogen-related receptor α (ERRα), a recently identified component of the PGC-1α signaling pathway. In addition, PGC-1α was shown to activate ERRα expression. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assays confirmed that PGC-1α and ERRα occupied the mPDK4 promoter in C2C12 myotubes. Additionally, transfection studies using ERRα-null primary fibroblasts demonstrated that ERRα is required for PGC-1α-mediated activation of the mPDK4 promoter. As predicted by the effects of PGC-1α on PDK4 gene transcription, overexpression of PGC-1α in C2C12 myotubes decreased glucose oxidation rates. These results identify the PDK4 gene as a new PGC-1α/ERRα target and suggest a mechanism whereby PGC-1α exerts reciprocal inhibitory influences on glucose catabolism while increasing alternate mitochondrial oxidative pathways in skeletal muscle.
PMCID: PMC1316952  PMID: 16314495
22.  PDK1 potentiates upstream lesions on the PI3K pathway in breast carcinoma 
Cancer research  2009;69(15):6299-6306.
Lesions of ERBB2, PTEN, and PIK3CA activate the PI3K pathway during cancer development by increasing levels of phosphatidylinositol-3,4,5-triphosphate (PIP3). 3-phosphoinositide-dependent kinase 1 (PDK1) is the first node of the PI3K signal output and is required for activation of AKT. PIP3 recruits PDK1 and AKT to the cell membrane through interactions with their PH domains, allowing PDK1 to activate AKT by phosphorylating it at residue threonine 308. We show that total PDK1 protein and mRNA was over-expressed in a majority of human breast cancers and that 21% of tumors had five or more copies of the gene encoding PDK1, PDPK1. We found that increased PDPK1 copy number was associated with upstream pathway lesions (ERBB2 amplification, PTEN loss, or PIK3CA mutation), as well as patient survival. Examination of an independent set of breast cancers and tumor cell lines derived from multiple forms of human cancers also found increased PDK1 protein levels associated with such upstream pathway lesions. In human mammary cells, PDK1 enhanced the ability of upstream lesions to signal to AKT, stimulate cell growth and migration, and rendered cells more resistant to PDK1 and PI3K inhibition. After orthotopic transplantation, PDK1 overexpression was not oncogenic but dramatically enhanced the ability of ERBB2 to form tumors. Our studies argue that PDK1 overexpression and increased PDPK1 copy number are common occurrences in cancer that potentiate the oncogenic effect of upstream lesions on the PI3K pathway. Therefore, we conclude that alteration of PDK1 is a critical component of oncogenic PI3K signaling in breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC2727605  PMID: 19602588
PDK1; PI3K; ERBB2; PTEN; breast
Experimental cell research  2008;314(11-12):2299-2312.
3-Phosphoinositide-dependent kinase-1 (PDK1) phosphorylates and activates several kinases in the cAMP-dependent, cGMP-dependent and protein kinase C(AGC) family. Many putative PDK1 substrates have been identified, but have not been analyzed following transient and specific inhibition of PDK1 activity. Here, we demonstrate that a previously characterized PDK1 inhibitor, BX-795, shows biological effects that are not consistent with PDK1 inhibition. Therefore, we describe the creation and characterization of a PDK1 mutant, L159G, which can bind inhibitor analogues containing bulky groups that hinder access to the ATP binding pocket of wild type (WT) kinases. When expressed in PDK1−/− ES cells, PDK1 L159G restored phosphorylation of PDK1 targets known to be hypophosphorylated in these cells. Screening of multiple inhibitor analogues showed that 1-NM-PP1 and 3,4-DMB-PP1 optimally inhibited the phosphorylation of PDK1 targets in PDK1−/− ES cells expressing PDK1 L159G but not WT PDK1. These compounds confirmed previously assumed PDK1 substrates, but revealed distinct dephosphorylation kinetics. While PDK1 inhibition had little effect on cell growth, it sensitized cells to apoptotic stimuli. Furthermore, PDK1 loss abolished growth of allograft tumors. Taken together we describe a model system that allows for acute and reversible inhibition of PDK1 in cells, to probe biochemical and biological consequences.
PMCID: PMC2531073  PMID: 18514190
PDK1; PKB; PI3K; chemical genetics; AGC kinases; apoptosis; teratoma; phosphorylation; BX-795; 1-NM-PP1
24.  Regulation of pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase isoform 4 (PDK4) gene expression by glucocorticoids and insulin 
The pyruvate dehydrogenase complex (PDC) catalyzes the conversion of pyruvate to acetyl-CoA in mitochondria and is a key regulatory enzyme in the oxidation of glucose to acetyl-CoA. Phosphorylation of PDC by the pyruvate dehydrogenase kinases (PDK) inhibits its activity. The expression of the pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase 4 (PDK4) gene is increased in fasting and other conditions associated with the switch from the utilization of glucose to fatty acids as an energy source. Transcription of the PDK4 gene is elevated by glucocorticoids and inhibited by insulin. In this study, we have investigated the factors involved in the regulation of the PDK4 gene by these hormones. Glucocorticoids stimulate PDK4 through two glucocorticoid receptor (GR) binding sites located more than 6,000 base pairs upstream of the transcriptional start site. Insulin inhibits the glucocorticoid induction in part by causing dissociation of the GR from the promoter. Previously, we found that the estrogen related receptor alpha (ERRα) stimulates the expression of PDK4. Here, we determined that one of the ERRα binding sites contributes to the insulin inhibition of PDK4. A binding site for the forkhead transcription factor (FoxO1) is adjacent to the ERRα binding sites. FoxO1 participates in the glucocorticoid induction of PDK4 and the regulation of this gene by insulin. Our data demonstrate that glucocorticoids and insulin each modulate PDK4 gene expression through complex hormone response units that contain multiple factors.
PMCID: PMC2815206  PMID: 19703515
Pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase (PDK4); glucocorticoids; insulin
25.  miRNA in the Regulation of Skeletal Muscle Adaptation to Acute Endurance Exercise in C57Bl/6J Male Mice 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(5):e5610.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are evolutionarily conserved small non-coding RNA species involved in post-transcriptional gene regulation. In vitro studies have identified a small number of skeletal muscle-specific miRNAs which play a crucial role in myoblast proliferation and differentiation. In skeletal muscle, an acute bout of endurance exercise results in the up-regulation of transcriptional networks that regulate mitochondrial biogenesis, glucose and fatty acid metabolism, and skeletal muscle remodelling. The purpose of this study was to assess the expressional profile of targeted miRNA species following an acute bout of endurance exercise and to determine relationships with previously established endurance exercise responsive transcriptional networks. C57Bl/6J wild-type male mice (N = 7/group) were randomly assigned to either sedentary or forced-endurance exercise (treadmill run @ 15 m/min for 90 min) group. The endurance exercise group was sacrificed three hours following a single bout of exercise. The expression of miR- 181, 1, 133, 23, and 107, all of which have been predicted to regulate transcription factors and co-activators involved in the adaptive response to exercise, was measured in quadriceps femoris muscle. Endurance exercise significantly increased the expression of miR-181, miR-1, and miR-107 by 37%, 40%, and 56%, respectively, and reduced miR-23 expression by 84% (P≤0.05 for all), with no change in miR-133. Importantly, decreased expression of miRNA-23, a putative negative regulator of PGC-1α was consistent with increased expression of PGC-1α mRNA and protein along with several downstream targets of PGC-1α including ALAS, CS, and cytochrome c mRNA. PDK4 protein content remains unaltered despite an increase in its putative negative regulator, miR-107, and PDK4 mRNA expression. mRNA expression of miRNA processing machinery (Drosha, Dicer, and DGCR8) remained unchanged. We conclude that miRNA-mediated post-transcriptional regulation is potentially involved in the complex regulatory networks that govern skeletal muscle adaptation to endurance exercise in C57Bl/6J male mice.
PMCID: PMC2680038  PMID: 19440340

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