Hepatic glucose metabolism signaling downstream of insulin can diverge to multiple pathways including AKT. Genetic studies suggest that AKT is necessary for insulin to suppress gluconeogenesis. To specifically address the role of AKT2, the dominant liver isoform of AKT in the regulation of gluconeogenesis genes, we generated hepatocytes lacking AKT2 (Akt2−/−). We found that, in the absence of insulin signal, AKT2 is required for maintaining the basal level expression of phosphoenolpyruvate carboxyl kinase (PEPCK) and to a lesser extent G6Pase, two key rate-limiting enzymes for gluconeogenesis that support glucose excursion due to pyruvate loading. We further showed that this function of AKT2 is mediated by the phosphorylation of cyclic AMP response element binding (CREB). Phosphorylation of CREB by AKT2 is needed for CREB to induce the expression of PEPCK and likely represents a priming event for unstimulated cells to poise to receive glucagon and other signals. The inhibition of gluconeogenesis by insulin is also dependent on the reduced FOXO1 transcriptional activity at the promoter of PEPCK. When insulin signal is absent, this activity appears to be inhibited by AKT2 in manner that is independent of its phosphorylation by AKT. Together, this action of AKT2 on FOXO1 and CREB to maintain basal gluconeogenesis activity may provide fine-tuning for insulin and glucocorticoid/glucagon to regulate gluconeogenesis in a timely manner to meet metabolic needs.

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