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Cell Signal. 1999 Aug;11(8):563-74.

Insulin signalling: metabolic pathways and mechanisms for specificity.

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Hypertension-Endocrine Branch, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-1754, USA.


Biological actions of insulin are mediated by the insulin receptor, a member of a large family of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTK). Signal transduction by the insulin receptor follows a paradigm for RTK signalling. Many intracellular signalling molecules contain multiple modular domains that mediate protein-protein interactions and participate in the formation of signalling complexes. Phosphorylation cascades are also a prominent feature of RTK signalling. Distal pathways are difficult to dissect because branching paths emerge from downstream effectors and several upstream inputs converge upon single branch points. Thus, insulin action is determined by complicated signalling networks rather than simple linear pathways. Interestingly, many signalling molecules downstream from the insulin receptor are also activated by a plethora of RTKs. Therefore, mechanisms that generate specificity are required. In this review we discuss recent advances in the elucidation of specific metabolic insulin signalling pathways related to glucose transport, one of the most distinctive biological actions of insulin. We also present examples of potential mechanisms underlying specificity in insulin signalling including interactions between multiple branching pathways, subcellular compartmentalization, tissue-specific expression of key effectors and modulation of signal frequency and amplitude.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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