Document Type


Publication Date

March 2004


This article has been peer reviewed. It was published in Molecular and Cellular Biology 24(5):1844-1854, March 2004. The published version is available at Copyright © 2004 by the American Society for Microbiology.


Insulin stimulation of target cells elicits a burst of H2O2 that enhances tyrosine phosphorylation of the insulin receptor and its cellular substrate proteins as well as distal signaling events in the insulin action cascade. The molecular mechanism coupling the insulin receptor with the cellular oxidant-generating apparatus has not been elucidated. Using reverse transcription-PCR and Northern blot analyses, we found that Nox4, a homolog of gp91phox, the phagocytic NAD(P)H oxidase catalytic subunit, is prominently expressed in insulin-sensitive adipose cells. Adenovirus-mediated expression of Nox4 deletion constructs lacking NAD(P)H or FAD/NAD(P)H cofactor binding domains acted in a dominant-negative fashion in differentiated 3T3-L1 adipocytes and attenuated insulin-stimulated H2O2 generation, insulin receptor (IR) and IRS-1 tyrosine phosphorylation, activation of downstream serine kinases, and glucose uptake. Transfection of specific small interfering RNA oligonucleotides reduced Nox4 protein abundance and also inhibited the insulin signaling cascade. Overexpression of Nox4 also significantly reversed the inhibition of insulin-stimulated IR tyrosine phosphorylation induced by coexpression of PTP1B by inhibiting PTP1B catalytic activity. These data suggest that Nox4 provides a novel link between the IR and the generation of cellular reactive oxygen species that enhance insulin signal transduction, at least in part via the oxidative inhibition of cellular protein-tyrosine phosphatases (PTPases), including PTP1B, a PTPase that has been previously implicated in the regulation of insulin action.