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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Acetylation of insulin receptor substrate-1 is permissive for tyrosine phosphorylation

Christina Kaiser and Stephen R James*

Author Affiliations

Section of Cell Biology, Department of Biology, Biovitrum AB, SE-112 76, Stockholm, Sweden

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BMC Biology 2004, 2:23  doi:10.1186/1741-7007-2-23

Published: 2 November 2004

Abstract

Background

Insulin receptor substrate (IRS) proteins are key moderators of insulin action. Their specific regulation determines downstream protein-protein interactions and confers specificity on growth factor signalling. Regulatory mechanisms that have been identified include phosphorylation of IRS proteins on tyrosine and serine residues and ubiquitination of lysine residues. This study investigated other potential molecular mechanisms of IRS-1 regulation.

Results

Using the sos recruitment yeast two-hybrid system we found that IRS-1 and histone deacetylase 2 (HDAC2) interact in the cytoplasmic compartment of yeast cells. The interaction mapped to the C-terminus of IRS-1 and was confirmed through co-immunoprecipitation in vitro of recombinant IRS-1 and HDAC2. HDAC2 bound to IRS-1 in mammalian cells treated with phorbol ester or after prolonged treatment with insulin/IGF-1 and also in the livers of ob/ob mice but not PTP1B knockout mice. Thus, the association occurs under conditions of compromised insulin signalling. We found that IRS-1 is an acetylated protein, of which the acetylation is increased by treatment of cells with Trichostatin A (TSA), an inhibitor of HDAC activity. TSA-induced increases in acetylation of IRS-1 were concomitant with increases in tyrosine phosphorylation in response to insulin. These effects were confirmed using RNA interference against HDAC2, indicating that HDAC2 specifically prevents phosphorylation of IRS-1 by the insulin receptor.

Conclusions

Our results show that IRS-1 is an acetylated protein, a post-translational modification that has not been previously described. Acetylation of IRS-1 is permissive for tyrosine phosphorylation and facilitates insulin-stimulated signal transduction. Specific inhibition of HDAC2 may increase insulin sensitivity in otherwise insulin resistant conditions.