Insulin signal transduction pathways and insulin-induced gene expression

Academic Article


  • Insulin regulates metabolic activity, gene transcription, and cell growth by modulating the activity of several intracellular signaling pathways. Insulin activation of one mitogen-activated protein kinase cascade, the MEK/ERK kinase cascade, is well described. However, the effect of insulin on the parallel p38 pathway is less well understood. The present work examines the effect of inhibiting the p38 signaling pathway by use of specific inhibitors, either alone or in combination with insulin, on the activation of ERK1/2 and on the regulation of gene transcription in rat bepatoma cells. Activation of ERKI/2 was induced by insulin and was dependent on the activation of MEK1, the kinase upstream of ERK in this pathway. Treatment of cells with p38 inhibitors also induced ERK1/2 activation/phospborylation. The addition of p38 inhibitors followed by insulin addition resulted in a greater than additive activation of ERK1/2. The two genes studied, c-Fos and Pip92, are immediate-early genes that are dependent on the ERK1/2 pathway for insulin-regulated induction because the insulin effect was inhibited by pretreatment with a MEK1 inhibitor. The addition of p38 inhibitors induced transcription of both genes in a dose-dependent manner, and insulin stimulation of both genes was enhanced by prior treatment with p38 inhibitors. The ability of the p38 inhibitors to induce ERKI/2 and gene transcription, both alone and in combination with insulin, was abolished by prior inhibition of MEK1. These data suggest possible cross-talk between the p38 and ERKI/2 signaling pathways and a potential role of p38 in insulin signaling.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Keeton AB; Amsler MO; Venable DY; Messina JL
  • Start Page

  • 48565
  • End Page

  • 48573
  • Volume

  • 277
  • Issue

  • 50