Exercise Modulates Postreceptor Insulin Signaling and Glucose Transport in Muscle-Specific Insulin Receptor Knockout Mice

J Clin Invest. 1999 Nov;104(9):1257-64. doi: 10.1172/JCI7961.


Physical exercise promotes glucose uptake into skeletal muscle and makes the working muscles more sensitive to insulin. To understand the role of insulin receptor (IR) signaling in these responses, we studied the effects of exercise and insulin on skeletal muscle glucose metabolism and insulin signaling in mice lacking insulin receptors specifically in muscle. Muscle-specific insulin receptor knockout (MIRKO) mice had normal resting 2-deoxy-glucose (2DG) uptake in soleus muscles but had no significant response to insulin. Despite this, MIRKO mice displayed normal exercise-stimulated 2DG uptake and a normal synergistic activation of muscle 2DG uptake with the combination of exercise plus insulin. Glycogen content and glycogen synthase activity in resting muscle were normal in MIRKO mice, and exercise, but not insulin, increased glycogen synthase activity. Insulin, exercise, and the combination of exercise plus insulin did not increase IR tyrosine phosphorylation or phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase activity in MIRKO muscle. In contrast, insulin alone produced a small activation of Akt and glycogen synthase kinase-3 in MIRKO mice, and prior exercise markedly enhanced this insulin effect. In conclusion, normal expression of muscle insulin receptors is not needed for the exercise-mediated increase in glucose uptake and glycogen synthase activity in vivo. The synergistic activation of glucose transport with exercise plus insulin is retained in MIRKO mice, suggesting a phenomenon mediated by nonmuscle cells or by downstream signaling events.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Deoxyglucose / pharmacokinetics
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Glycogen / metabolism
  • Glycogen Synthase / metabolism
  • Insulin / metabolism*
  • Insulin / pharmacology
  • Insulin Receptor Substrate Proteins
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Muscle Contraction
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism
  • Phosphoproteins / metabolism
  • Phosphorylation
  • Physical Conditioning, Animal*
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Receptor, Insulin / metabolism*
  • Serine / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Time Factors
  • Tyrosine / metabolism


  • Insulin
  • Insulin Receptor Substrate Proteins
  • Irs1 protein, mouse
  • Phosphoproteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Tyrosine
  • Serine
  • Glycogen
  • Deoxyglucose
  • Glycogen Synthase
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • Receptor, Insulin
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Glucose