Reduction of insulin-stimulated glucose uptake in L6 myotubes by the protein kinase inhibitor SB203580 is independent of p38MAPK activity.
Insulin increases glucose uptake through translocation of the glucose transporter GLUT4 to the plasma membrane. We previously showed that insulin activates p38MAPK, and inhibitors of p38MAPKalpha and p38MAPKbeta (e.g. SB203580) reduce insulin-stimulated glucose uptake without affecting GLUT4 translocation. This observation suggested that insulin may increase GLUT4 activity via p38alpha and/or p38beta. Here we further explore the possible participation of p38MAPK through a combination of molecular strategies. SB203580 reduced insulin stimulation of glucose uptake in L6 myotubes overexpressing an SB203580-resistant p38alpha (drug-resistant p38alpha) but barely affected phosphorylation of the p38 substrate MAPK-activated protein kinase-2. Expression of dominant-negative p38alpha or p38beta reduced p38MAPK phosphorylation by 70% but had no effect on insulin-stimulated glucose uptake. Gene silencing via isoform-specific small interfering RNAs reduced expression of p38alpha or p38beta by 60-70% without diminishing insulin-stimulated glucose uptake. SB203580 reduced photoaffinity labeling of GLUT4 by bio-LC-ATB-BMPA only in the insulin-stimulated state. Unless low levels of p38MAPK suffice to regulate glucose uptake, these results suggest that the inhibition of insulin-stimulated glucose transport by SB203580 is likely not mediated by p38MAPK. Instead, changes experienced by insulin-stimulated GLUT4 make it susceptible to inhibition by SB203580.