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Cell Signal. 1999 Jan;11(1):15-23.

Insulin activates caspase-3 by a phosphatidylinositol 3'-kinase-dependent pathway.

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  • 1Department of Animal Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana 61801, USA.


Activation of the caspase proteases by c-Jun N-terminal kinase 1 (JNK1) has been proposed as a mechanism of apoptotic cell death. Here we report that insulin activates caspase-3 by a pathway requiring phosphatidylinositol 3'-kinase (PI3-kinase). JNK1 assays demonstrated that insulin treatment of myeloma cells induced 3-fold activation of JNK1. Inhibition of PI3-kinase with wortmannin and LY294002 blocked insulin-dependent activation of JNK1. Caspase assays demonstrated that insulin increased caspase-3 activity 3-fold and that inhibition of PI3-kinase blocked this effect. Cell death was doubled by insulin and was due to a 3-fold increase in apoptosis of cells in the G1/G0 phase of the cell cycle. Inhibition of PI3-kinase completely blocked this effect. Finally, inhibition of caspase-3 with benzyloxycarbonyl-Asp-2,6-dichlorobenzoyloxymethylketone blocked cell death due to insulin. Taken together, these findings indicate that insulin activates caspase-3 by a PI3-kinase-dependent pathway resulting in increased apoptosis and cell death.

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