Nature 451, 964-969 (21 February 2008) | doi:10.1038/nature06668; Received 6 October 2007; Accepted 7 January 2008

Phosphoinositide signalling links O-GlcNAc transferase to insulin resistance

Xiaoyong Yang1, Pat P. Ongusaha2, Philip D. Miles3, Joyce C. Havstad1, Fengxue Zhang4, W. Venus So5, Jeffrey E. Kudlow4, Robert H. Michell6, Jerrold M. Olefsky3, Seth J. Field3 & Ronald M. Evans1

  1. Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Gene Expression Laboratory, The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, California 92037, USA
  2. Cutaneous Biology Research Center, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Charlestown, Massachusetts 02129, USA
  3. Department of Medicine, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093, USA
  4. Department of Medicine, University of Alabama, Birmingham, Alabama 35294, USA
  5. Roche Group Research Information, Hoffmann-La Roche, Inc., Nutley, New Jersey 07110, USA
  6. School of Biosciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK

Correspondence to: Ronald M. Evans1 Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to R.M.E. (Email:


Glucose flux through the hexosamine biosynthetic pathway leads to the post-translational modification of cytoplasmic and nuclear proteins by O-linked beta-N-acetylglucosamine (O-GlcNAc). This tandem system serves as a nutrient sensor to couple systemic metabolic status to cellular regulation of signal transduction, transcription, and protein degradation. Here we show that O-GlcNAc transferase (OGT) harbours a previously unrecognized type of phosphoinositide-binding domain. After induction with insulin, phosphatidylinositol 3,4,5-trisphosphate recruits OGT from the nucleus to the plasma membrane, where the enzyme catalyses dynamic modification of the insulin signalling pathway by O-GlcNAc. This results in the alteration in phosphorylation of key signalling molecules and the attenuation of insulin signal transduction. Hepatic overexpression of OGT impairs the expression of insulin-responsive genes and causes insulin resistance and dyslipidaemia. These findings identify a molecular mechanism by which nutritional cues regulate insulin signalling through O-GlcNAc, and underscore the contribution of this modification to the aetiology of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.