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Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2009 Apr;296(4):E581-91. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.90437.2008. Epub 2008 Aug 26.

Phosphorylation of IRS proteins, insulin action, and insulin resistance.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Cell Biology, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, 76100 Israel.

Abstract

Insulin signaling at target tissues is essential for growth and development and for normal homeostasis of glucose, fat, and protein metabolism. Control over this process is therefore tightly regulated. It can be achieved by a negative feedback control mechanism whereby downstream components inhibit upstream elements along the insulin-signaling pathway (autoregulation) or by signals from apparently unrelated pathways that inhibit insulin signaling thus leading to insulin resistance. Phosphorylation of insulin receptor substrate (IRS) proteins on serine residues has emerged as a key step in these control processes under both physiological and pathological conditions. The list of IRS kinases implicated in the development of insulin resistance is growing rapidly, concomitant with the list of potential Ser/Thr phosphorylation sites in IRS proteins. Here, we review a range of conditions that activate IRS kinases to phosphorylate IRS proteins on "hot spot" domains. The flexibility vs. specificity features of this reaction is discussed and its characteristic as an "array" phosphorylation is suggested. Finally, its implications on insulin signaling, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, an emerging epidemic of the 21st century are outlined.

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