FoxO transcription factors activate Akt and attenuate insulin signaling in heart by inhibiting protein phosphatases

Yan G. Ni, Na Wang, Dian J Cao, Nita Sachan, David J. Morris, Robert D. Gerard, Makoto Kuro-o, Beverly A Rothermel, Joseph A Hill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

192 Scopus citations


Insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome are rapidly expanding public health problems. Acting through the PI3K/Akt pathway, insulin and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) inactivate FoxO transcription factors, a class of highly conserved proteins important in numerous physiological functions. However, even as FoxO is a downstream target of insulin, FoxO factors also control upstream signaling elements governing insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism. Here, we report that sustained activation of either FoxO1 or FoxO3 in cardiac myocytes increases basal levels of Akt phosphorylation and kinase activity. FoxO-activated Akt directly interacts with and phosphorylates FoxO, providing feedback inhibition. We reported previously that FoxO factors attenuate cardiomyocyte calcineurin (PP2B) activity. We now show that calcineurin forms a complex with Akt and inhibition of calcineurin enhances Akt phosphorylation. In addition, FoxO activity suppresses protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) and disrupts Akt-PP2A and Akt-calcineurin interactions. Repression of Akt-PP2A/B interactions and phosphatase activities contributes, at least in part, to FoxO-dependent increases in Akt phosphorylation and kinase activity. Resveratrol, an activator of Sirt1, increases the transcriptional activity of FoxO1 and triggers Akt phosphorylation in heart. Importantly, FoxO-mediated increases in Akt activity diminish insulin signaling, as manifested by reduced Akt phosphorylation, reduced membrane translocation of Glut4, and decreased insulin-triggered glucose uptake. Also, inactivation of the gene coding for FoxO3 enhances insulin-dependent Akt phosphorylation. Taken together, this study demonstrates that changes in FoxO activity have a dose-responsive repressive effect on insulin signaling in cardiomyocytes through inhibition of protein phosphatases, which leads to altered Akt activation, reduced insulin sensitivity, and impaired glucose metabolism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20517-20522
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number51
StatePublished - Dec 18 2007


  • Calcineurin
  • Cardiomyocyte
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Insulin resistance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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