A modelling-experimental approach reveals insulin receptor substrate (IRS)-dependent regulation of adenosine monosphosphate-dependent kinase (AMPK) by insulin

FEBS J. 2012 Sep;279(18):3314-28. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-4658.2012.08582.x. Epub 2012 May 3.


Mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) kinase responds to growth factors, nutrients and cellular energy status and is a central controller of cellular growth. mTOR exists in two multiprotein complexes that are embedded into a complex signalling network. Adenosine monophosphate-dependent kinase (AMPK) is activated by energy deprivation and shuts off adenosine 5'-triphosphate (ATP)-consuming anabolic processes, in part via the inactivation of mTORC1. Surprisingly, we observed that AMPK not only responds to energy deprivation but can also be activated by insulin, and is further induced in mTORC1-deficient cells. We have recently modelled the mTOR network, covering both mTOR complexes and their insulin and nutrient inputs. In the present study we extended the network by an AMPK module to generate the to date most comprehensive data-driven dynamic AMPK-mTOR network model. In order to define the intersection via which AMPK is activated by the insulin network, we compared simulations for six different hypothetical model structures to our observed AMPK dynamics. Hypotheses ranking suggested that the most probable intersection between insulin and AMPK was the insulin receptor substrate (IRS) and that the effects of canonical IRS downstream cues on AMPK would be mediated via an mTORC1-driven negative-feedback loop. We tested these predictions experimentally in multiple set-ups, where we inhibited or induced players along the insulin-mTORC1 signalling axis and observed AMPK induction or inhibition. We confirmed the identified model and therefore report a novel connection within the insulin-mTOR-AMPK network: we conclude that AMPK is positively regulated by IRS and can be inhibited via the negative-feedback loop.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Amino Acids / pharmacology
  • Computer Simulation
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Insulin / pharmacology
  • Insulin / physiology*
  • Insulin Receptor Substrate Proteins / metabolism*
  • Kinetics
  • Mechanistic Target of Rapamycin Complex 1
  • Models, Biological
  • Multiprotein Complexes
  • Proteins
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases


  • Amino Acids
  • Insulin
  • Insulin Receptor Substrate Proteins
  • Multiprotein Complexes
  • Proteins
  • Mechanistic Target of Rapamycin Complex 1
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases