β-Arrestin-1 and -2 (also known as arrestin-2 and -3, respectively) are ubiquitously expressed cytoplasmic proteins that dampen signaling through G protein-coupled receptors. However, β-arrestins can also act as signaling molecules in their own right. To investigate the potential metabolic roles of the two β-arrestins in modulating glucose and energy homeostasis, recent studies analyzed mutant mice that lacked or overexpressed β-arrestin-1 and/or -2 in distinct, metabolically important cell types. Metabolic analysis of these mutant mice clearly demonstrated that both β-arrestins play key roles in regulating the function of most of these cell types, resulting in striking changes in whole-body glucose and/or energy homeostasis. These studies also revealed that β-arrestin-1 and -2, though structurally closely related, clearly differ in their metabolic roles under physiological and pathophysiological conditions. These new findings should guide the development of novel drugs for the treatment of various metabolic disorders, including type 2 diabetes and obesity.
Keywords: G protein–coupled receptors; genetically modified mice; insulin resistance; obesity; type 2 diabetes; β-arrestins.