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Gene Review

PDK4  -  pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase, isozyme 4

Homo sapiens

Synonyms: PDHK4, Pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase isoform 4
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Disease relevance of PDK4


High impact information on PDK4


Biological context of PDK4

  • Mechanisms that regulate PDK4 gene expression, previously established to be increased by glucocorticoids and decreased by insulin, were studied [4].
  • In contrast, the coenzyme does not significantly affect the total amount of phosphate incorporated in site 2 by PDK3 and PDK4, but instead decreases the rate of phosphorylation of this site [5].
  • PPAR alpha deficiency in liver and kidney restricts starvation-induced upregulation of PDK4; however, the role of PPAR alpha in heart and skeletal muscle appears to be more complex [1].
  • Thus, activation of FXR may suppress glycolysis and enhance oxidation of fatty acids via inactivation of the PDC by increasing PDK4 expression [6].
  • A glucocorticoid response element for glucocorticoid receptor (GR) binding and three insulin response sequences (IRSs) that bind FOXO1a and FOXO3a are identified in the hPDK4 promoter [4].

Anatomical context of PDK4

  • PDK2 and PDK4 mRNAs were positively correlated with fasting plasma insulin concentration, 2-h plasma insulin concentration in response to oral glucose, and percentage body fat, whereas both isoforms were negatively correlated with insulin-mediated glucose uptake rates [7].
  • Using a cultured human skeletal muscle cell model system, we found that expression of both PDK2 and PDK4 mRNA is upregulated in response to glucose deprivation and fatty acid supplementation, the effects of which are reversed by insulin treatment [8].
  • PDK4 is also either a direct or indirect target of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) alpha [1].
  • Treatment of rat hepatoma cells as well as human primary hepatocytes with FXR agonists stimulates the expression of PDK4 to levels comparable to those obtained with glucocorticoids [6].
  • PDK exists in four isoforms, of which the PDK4 isoform is predominantly expressed in skeletal and heart muscle [9].

Associations of PDK4 with chemical compounds

  • Starvation and diabetes increase pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase-4 (PDK4) expression, which conserves gluconeogenic substrates by inactivating the pyruvate dehydrogenase complex [4].
  • Treatment of HepG2 cells with dexamethasone increases the relative abundance of PDK4 mRNA, and insulin blocks this effect [4].
  • We performed detailed comparative analyses of the gene, termed PDK4, in insulin-resistant and insulin-sensitive Pima Indians, and detected five DNA variants with comparable frequencies in both subject groups [10].
  • In these studies we have investigated the transcriptional regulation of the PDK4 gene by the estrogen-related receptors (ERRalpha and ERRgamma) [2].
  • In addition, treatment of mice with an FXR agonist significantly increased hepatic PDK4 expression, while concomitantly decreasing plasma triglyceride levels [6].
  • Accumulation of im lipids plays a more important role than impaired activation of Akt-mediated pathways in the regulation of muscle PDK4 gene expression in lipid-induced acute insulin-resistant states [11].

Regulatory relationships of PDK4


Other interactions of PDK4

  • Although PDK2 phosphorylates site 1 and 2, it incorporates less phosphate in site 2 than PDK3 or PDK4 [5].
  • In contrast, L2 caused a 3-fold increase in PDK3 activity and approx. 37% increase in PDK4 activity [13].
  • However, responses varied among subjects with two subjects in particular displaying far greater activation of PDK4 (>100-fold) and LPL (>20-fold) than the other subjects (mean approximately 8-fold and approximately 2-fold, respectively) [14].
  • Intact mitchondria were extracted from fresh muscle and analyzed for PDK activity and Western blotting of PDK2 and PDK4 protein [15].
  • In addition, insulin directly downregulates PDK2 and PDK4 mRNA transcript abundance via a phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase-dependent pathway, which may involve glycogen synthase kinase-3 but does not utilize the mammalian target of rapamycin or mitogen-activated protein kinase signalling pathways [8].

Analytical, diagnostic and therapeutic context of PDK4

  • A second biopsy was taken at each time point and frozen for Northern blot analysis of PDK2 and PDK4 mRNAs [15].
  • Measurements of PDK2 and PDK4 mRNA during the hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp and of PDK2 in cell culture indicated that both transcripts decrease in response to insulin [7].
  • The next morning, we measured plasma substrate and insulin concentrations and CHO oxidation, and we obtained muscle biopsies from the vastus lateralis for measurement of pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase (PDK)-2 and PDK-4 mRNA expression by using RT-PCR [16].


  1. Therapeutic potential of the mammalian pyruvate dehydrogenase kinases in the prevention of hyperglycaemia. Sugden, M.C., Holness, M.J. Curr. Drug Targets Immune Endocr. Metabol. Disord. (2002) [Pubmed]
  2. Estrogen-related Receptors Stimulate Pyruvate Dehydrogenase Kinase Isoform 4 Gene Expression. Zhang, Y., Ma, K., Sadana, P., Chowdhury, F., Gaillard, S., Wang, F., McDonnell, D.P., Unterman, T.G., Elam, M.B., Park, E.A. J. Biol. Chem. (2006) [Pubmed]
  3. Insulin regulation of skeletal muscle PDK4 mRNA expression is impaired in acute insulin-resistant states. Kim, Y.I., Lee, F.N., Choi, W.S., Lee, S., Youn, J.H. Diabetes (2006) [Pubmed]
  4. Protein kinase B-alpha inhibits human pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase-4 gene induction by dexamethasone through inactivation of FOXO transcription factors. Kwon, H.S., Huang, B., Unterman, T.G., Harris, R.A. Diabetes (2004) [Pubmed]
  5. Regulation of pyruvate dehydrogenase activity through phosphorylation at multiple sites. Kolobova, E., Tuganova, A., Boulatnikov, I., Popov, K.M. Biochem. J. (2001) [Pubmed]
  6. Regulation of pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase expression by the farnesoid X receptor. Savkur, R.S., Bramlett, K.S., Michael, L.F., Burris, T.P. Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. (2005) [Pubmed]
  7. Insulin downregulates pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase (PDK) mRNA: potential mechanism contributing to increased lipid oxidation in insulin-resistant subjects. Majer, M., Popov, K.M., Harris, R.A., Bogardus, C., Prochazka, M. Mol. Genet. Metab. (1998) [Pubmed]
  8. Diverging regulation of pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase isoform gene expression in cultured human muscle cells. Abbot, E.L., McCormack, J.G., Reynet, C., Hassall, D.G., Buchan, K.W., Yeaman, S.J. FEBS J. (2005) [Pubmed]
  9. Transcriptional regulation of pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase 4 in skeletal muscle during and after exercise. Pilegaard, H., Neufer, P.D. The Proceedings of the Nutrition Society. (2004) [Pubmed]
  10. Cloning and characterization of PDK4 on 7q21.3 encoding a fourth pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase isoenzyme in human. Rowles, J., Scherer, S.W., Xi, T., Majer, M., Nickle, D.C., Rommens, J.M., Popov, K.M., Harris, R.A., Riebow, N.L., Xia, J., Tsui, L.C., Bogardus, C., Prochazka, M. J. Biol. Chem. (1996) [Pubmed]
  11. Elevated free fatty acids attenuate the insulin-induced suppression of PDK4 gene expression in human skeletal muscle: potential role of intramuscular long-chain acyl-coenzyme A. Tsintzas, K., Chokkalingam, K., Jewell, K., Norton, L., Macdonald, I.A., Constantin-Teodosiu, D. J. Clin. Endocrinol. Metab. (2007) [Pubmed]
  12. Retinoic acids and trichostatin A (TSA), a histone deacetylase inhibitor, induce human pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase 4 (PDK4) gene expression. Kwon, H.S., Huang, B., Ho Jeoung, N., Wu, P., Steussy, C.N., Harris, R.A. Biochim. Biophys. Acta (2006) [Pubmed]
  13. Interaction between the individual isoenzymes of pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase and the inner lipoyl-bearing domain of transacetylase component of pyruvate dehydrogenase complex. Tuganova, A., Boulatnikov, I., Popov, K.M. Biochem. J. (2002) [Pubmed]
  14. Effect of short-term fasting and refeeding on transcriptional regulation of metabolic genes in human skeletal muscle. Pilegaard, H., Saltin, B., Neufer, P.D. Diabetes (2003) [Pubmed]
  15. Human skeletal muscle PDH kinase activity and isoform expression during a 3-day high-fat/low-carbohydrate diet. Peters, S.J., Harris, R.A., Wu, P., Pehleman, T.L., Heigenhauser, G.J., Spriet, L.L. Am. J. Physiol. Endocrinol. Metab. (2001) [Pubmed]
  16. Energy deficit without reducing dietary carbohydrate alters resting carbohydrate oxidation and fatty acid availability. Horowitz, J.F., Kaufman, A.E., Fox, A.K., Harber, M.P. J. Appl. Physiol. (2005) [Pubmed]
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