Three Akt isoforms, encoded by 3 separate genes, are expressed in mammals. While the roles of Akt1 and Akt2 in metabolism are well established, it is not yet known whether Akt3 plays a role in metabolic diseases. We now report that Akt3 protects mice from high-fat diet–induced obesity by suppressing an alternative pathway of adipogenesis via with no lysine protein kinase-1 (WNK1) and serum/glucocorticoid-inducible kinase 1 (SGK1). We demonstrate that Akt3 specifically phosphorylates WNK1 at T58 and promotes its degradation via the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway. A lack of Akt3 in adipocytes increases the WNK1 protein level, leading to activation of SGK1. SGK1, in turn, promotes adipogenesis by phosphorylating and inhibiting transcription factor FOXO1 and, subsequently, activating the transcription of PPARγ in adipocytes. Akt3-deficient mice have an increased number of adipocytes and, when fed a high-fat diet, display increased weight gain, white adipose tissue expansion, and impaired glucose homeostasis. Pharmacological blockade of SGK1 in high-fat diet–fed Akt3-deficient mice suppressed adipogenesis, prevented excessive weight gain and adiposity, and ameliorated metabolic parameters. Thus, Akt3/WNK1/SGK1 represents a potentially novel signaling pathway controlling the development of obesity.
Liang Ding, Lifang Zhang, Sudipta Biswas, Rebecca C. Schugar, J. Mark Brown, Tatiana Byzova, Eugene Podrez