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Front Biosci. 1997 Mar 15;2:d160-72.

Signal transduction in pancreatic beta-cells: regulation of insulin secretion by information flow in the phospholipase C/protein kinase C pathway.

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  • 1Yale University School of Nursing, 100 Church Street South, New Haven, CT 06536-0740, USA. Walter.Zawalich@Yale.Edu


The physiologic regulation of glucose-induced insulin secretion is dependent upon the activation of information flow in the phospholipase C (PLC)/protein kinase C (PKC) signal transduction system. In both rat and human pancreatic beta-cells, glucose has several time-dependent effects on secretory responsiveness including the regulation of biphasic insulin secretion, time-dependent potentiation and time-dependent suppression. PLC/PKC activation has been implicated in all three response patterns. Islets of Langerhans contain the three major PLC isozyme classes (beta1, gamma1 and delta1) and the available evidence suggests that one class is activated by fuel secretagogues and another by neurohumoral agonists. The expression and activation of PLC is labile. When rat islet are cultured for short periods, the content and activation of PLC in response to glucose decreases and this biochemical defect in signal transduction is paralleled by significant reductions in glucose-induced insulin secretion. Similar defects are observed when human islets are cultured as well. Mouse islet responses to glucose stimulation differ in several major and dramatic ways from rat and human islet responses. When stimulated by 15mM glucose, mouse islets fail to develop a rising second phase secretory response, they fail to exhibit either time-dependent potentiation or time-dependent suppression to the hexose. Biphasic insulin secretion can be evoked and time-dependent potentiation can be induced in mouse islets by carbachol, an agonist that activates an isozyme of PLC distinct from that activated by glucose. These divergent response patterns are attributable to the underexpression in mouse islets, when compared to rat islets, of a fuel-sensitive PLC isozyme. When taken in their entirety, the experimental evidence suggests that the activation of PLC is an essential component in the physiologic regulation of insulin secretion and that disordered activation of the enzyme culminates in disordered insulin release.

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