p75 neurotrophin receptor regulates glucose homeostasis and insulin sensitivity.

Bernat Baeza-Raja, Pingping Li, Natacha Le Moan, Benjamin Sachs, Christian Schachtrup, Dimitrios Davalos, Eirini Vagena, , Choel Kim, Alan Saltiel, Jerrold Olefsky and Katerina Akassoglou

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2012. 109: 5838-43.


Insulin resistance is a key factor in the etiology of type 2 diabetes. Insulin-stimulated glucose uptake is mediated by the glucose transporter 4 (GLUT4), which is expressed mainly in skeletal muscle and adipose tissue. Insulin-stimulated translocation of GLUT4 from its intracellular compartment to the plasma membrane is regulated by small guanosine triphosphate hydrolases (GTPases) and is essential for the maintenance of normal glucose homeostasis. Here we show that the p75 neurotrophin receptor (p75(NTR)) is a regulator of glucose uptake and insulin resistance. p75(NTR) knockout mice show increased insulin sensitivity on normal chow diet, independent of changes in body weight. Euglycemic-hyperinsulinemic clamp studies demonstrate that deletion of the p75(NTR) gene increases the insulin-stimulated glucose disposal rate and suppression of hepatic glucose production. Genetic depletion or shRNA knockdown of p75(NTR) in adipocytes or myoblasts increases insulin-stimulated glucose uptake and GLUT4 translocation. Conversely, overexpression of p75(NTR) in adipocytes decreases insulin-stimulated glucose transport. In adipocytes, p75(NTR) forms a complex with the Rab5 family GTPases Rab5 and Rab31 that regulate GLUT4 trafficking. Rab5 and Rab31 directly interact with p75(NTR) primarily via helix 4 of the p75(NTR) death domain. Adipocytes from p75(NTR) knockout mice show increased Rab5 and decreased Rab31 activities, and dominant negative Rab5 rescues the increase in glucose uptake seen in p75(NTR) knockout adipocytes. Our results identify p75(NTR) as a unique player in glucose metabolism and suggest that signaling from p75(NTR) to Rab5 family GTPases may represent a unique therapeutic target for insulin resistance and diabetes.


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