Insulin stimulates endothelial NO (nitric oxide) synthesis via PKB (protein kinase B)/Akt-mediated phosphorylation and activation of eNOS (endothelial NO synthase) at Ser-1177. In previous studies, we have demonstrated that stimulation of eNOS phosphorylation at Ser-1177 may be required, yet is not sufficient for insulin-stimulated NO synthesis. We therefore investigated the role of phosphorylation of eNOS at alternative sites to Ser-1177 as candidate parallel mechanisms contributing to insulin-stimulated NO synthesis. Stimulation of human aortic endothelial cells with insulin rapidly stimulated phosphorylation of both Ser-615 and Ser-1177 on eNOS, whereas phosphorylation of Ser-114, Thr-495 and Ser-633 was unaffected. Insulin-stimulated Ser-615 phosphorylation was abrogated by incubation with the PI3K (phosphoinositide 3-kinase) inhibitor wortmannin, infection with adenoviruses expressing a dominant-negative mutant PKB/Akt or pre-incubation with TNFα (tumour necrosis factor α), but was unaffected by high culture glucose concentrations. Mutation of Ser-615 to alanine reduced insulin-stimulated NO synthesis, whereas mutation of Ser-615 to aspartic acid increased NO production by NOS in which Ser-1177 had been mutated to an aspartic acid residue. We propose that the rapid PKB-mediated stimulation of phosphorylation of Ser-615 contributes to insulin-stimulated NO synthesis
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