Class IA PI3Ks (phosphoinositide 3-kinases) consist of a p110 catalytic subunit bound to one of five regulatory subunits, known as p85s. Under unstimulated conditions, p85 stabilizes the labile p110 protein, while inhibiting its catalytic activity. Recruitment of the p85–p110 complex to receptors and adaptor proteins via the p85 SH2 (Src homology 2) domains alleviates this inhibition, leading to PI3K activation and production of PIP3 (phosphatidylinositol 3,4,5-trisphosphate). Four independent p85 KO (knockout) mouse lines have been generated. Remarkably, PI3K signalling in insulin-sensitive tissues of these mice is increased. The existence of p110-free p85 in insulin-responsive cells has been invoked to explain this observation. Such a monomeric p85 would compete with heterodimeric p85–p110 for pTyr (phosphotyrosine) recruitment, and thus repress PI3K activity. Reduction in the pool of p110-free p85 in p85 KO mice was thought to allow recruitment of functional heterodimeric p85–p110, leading to increased PI3K activity. However, recent results indicate that monomeric p85, like p110, is unstable in cells. Moreover, overexpressed free p85 does not necessarily compete with heterodimeric p85–p110 for receptor binding. Using a variety of approaches, we have observed a 1:1 ratio between the p85 and p110 subunits in murine cell lines and primary tissues. Alternative models to explain the increase in PI3K signalling in insulin-responsive cells of p85 KO mice, based on possible effects of p85 deletion on phosphatases acting on PIP3, are discussed.

You do not currently have access to this content.