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Endocrinology. 2010 Feb;151(2):502-12. doi: 10.1210/en.2009-0678. Epub 2010 Jan 7.

Acute insulin signaling in pancreatic beta-cells is mediated by multiple Raf-1 dependent pathways.

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Department of Cellular and Physiological Sciences, University of British Columbia, 5358 Life Sciences Building, 2350 Health Sciences Mall, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.


Insulin enhances the proliferation and survival of pancreatic beta-cells, but its mechanisms remain unclear. We hypothesized that Raf-1, a kinase upstream of both ERK and Bad, might be a critical target of insulin in beta-cells. To test this hypothesis, we treated human and mouse islets as well as MIN6 beta-cells with multiple insulin concentrations and examined putative downstream targets using immunoblotting, immunoprecipitation, quantitative fluorescent imaging, and cell death assays. Low doses of insulin rapidly activated Raf-1 by dephosphorylating serine 259 and phosphorylating serine 338 in human islets, mouse islets, and MIN6 cells. The phosphorylation of ERK by insulin was eliminated by exposure to a Raf inhibitor (GW5074) or transfection with a dominant-negative Raf-1 mutant. Insulin also enhanced the interaction between mitochondrial Raf-1 and Bcl-2 agonist of cell death (Bad), promoting Bad inactivation via its phosphorylation on serine 112. Insulin-stimulated ERK phosphorylation was abrogated by calcium chelation, calcineurin and calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II inhibitors, and Ned-19, a nicotinic acid adenine dinucleotide phosphate receptor (NAADPR) antagonist. Blocking Raf-1 and Ca(2+) signaling resulted in nonadditive beta-cell death. Autocrine insulin signaling partly accounted for the effects of glucose on ERK phosphorylation. Our results demonstrate that Raf-1 is a critical target of insulin in primary beta-cells. Activation of Raf-1 leads to both an ERK-dependent pathway that involves nicotinic acid adenine dinucleotide phosphate-sensitive Ca(2+) stores and Ca(2+)-dependent phosphorylation events, and an ERK-independent pathway that involves Bad inactivation at the mitochondria. Together our findings identify a novel insulin signaling pathway in beta-cells and shed light on insulin's antiapoptotic and mitogenic mechanisms.

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