Signaling of the p21-activated kinase (PAK1) coordinates insulin-stimulated actin remodeling and glucose uptake in skeletal muscle cells

Ragadeepthi Tunduguru, Tim T Chiu, Latha Ramalingam, Jeffrey S Elmendorf, Amira Klip, Debbie C Thurmond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Skeletal muscle accounts for ∼ 80% of postprandial glucose clearance, and skeletal muscle glucose clearance is crucial for maintaining insulin sensitivity and euglycemia. Insulin-stimulated glucose clearance/uptake entails recruitment of glucose transporter 4 (GLUT4) to the plasma membrane (PM) in a process that requires cortical F-actin remodeling; this process is dysregulated in Type 2 Diabetes. Recent studies have implicated PAK1 as a required element in GLUT4 recruitment in mouse skeletal muscle in vivo, although its underlying mechanism of action and requirement in glucose uptake remains undetermined. Toward this, we have employed the PAK1 inhibitor, IPA3, in studies using L6-GLUT4-myc muscle cells. IPA3 fully ablated insulin-stimulated GLUT4 translocation to the PM, corroborating the observation of ablated insulin-stimulated GLUT4 accumulation in the PM of skeletal muscle from PAK1(-/-) knockout mice. IPA3-treatment also abolished insulin-stimulated glucose uptake into skeletal myotubes. Mechanistically, live-cell imaging of myoblasts expressing the F-actin biosensor LifeAct-GFP treated with IPA3 showed blunting of the normal insulin-induced cortical actin remodeling. This blunting was underpinned by a loss of normal insulin-stimulated cofilin dephosphorylation in IPA3-treated myoblasts. These findings expand upon the existing model of actin remodeling in glucose uptake, by placing insulin-stimulated PAK1 signaling as a required upstream step to facilitate actin remodeling and subsequent cofilin dephosphorylation. Active, dephosphorylated cofilin then provides the G-actin substrate for continued F-actin remodeling to facilitate GLUT4 vesicle translocation for glucose uptake into the skeletal muscle cell.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)380-8
Number of pages9
JournalBiochemical Pharmacology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 15 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Actins/metabolism
  • Animals
  • Biological Transport/drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Glucose/metabolism
  • Insulin/pharmacology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Muscle, Skeletal/cytology
  • Myoblasts, Skeletal/drug effects
  • Rats
  • Signal Transduction/drug effects
  • p21-Activated Kinases/metabolism


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