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Pathway Description:

Insulin is the major hormone controlling critical energy functions such as glucose and lipid metabolism. Insulin activates the insulin receptor tyrosine kinase (IR), which phosphorylates and recruits different substrate adaptors such as the IRS family of proteins. Tyrosine phosphorylated IRS then displays binding sites for numerous signaling partners. Among them, PI3K has a major role in insulin function, mainly via the activation of the Akt/PKB and the PKCζ cascades. Activated Akt induces glycogen synthesis through inhibition of GSK-3; protein synthesis via mTOR and downstream elements; and cell survival through inhibition of several pro-apoptotic agents (Bad, Forkhead family transcription factors, GSK-3). Insulin stimulates glucose uptake in muscle and adipocytes via translocation of GLUT4 vesicles to the plasma membrane. GLUT4 translocation involves the PI3K/Akt pathway and IR-mediated phosphorylation of CAP, and formation of the CAP:Cbl:CrkII complex. Insulin signaling also has growth and mitogenic effects, which are mostly mediated by the Akt cascade as well as by activation of the Ras/ MAPK pathway. In addition, insulin signaling inhibits gluconeogenesis in the liver, through disruption of CREB/CBP/Torc2 binding. Insulin signaling also promotes fatty acid synthesis through activation of SREBP-1C, USF1, and LXR. A negative feedback signal emanating from Akt/PKB, PKCζ, p70 S6K, and the MAPK cascades results in serine phosphorylation and inactivation of IRS signaling.

Selected Reviews:

We would like to thank Ding An and Prof. Laurie Goodyear, Joslin Diabetes Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA for reviewing this diagram.

created June 2003

revised November 2012