Systems properties of insulin signaling revealed

June 20, 2008

A team of Swedish researchers has characterized novel systems properties of insulin signaling in human fat cells. Their mathematical modeling, described in an article published June 20th in the open-access journal PLoS Computational Biology, provides further insight into energy level maintenance (via the hormone insulin) within our bodies.

Hampered insulin function is the cardinal cause of Type 2 diabetes, which currently affects nearly 250 million people worldwide. The disease causes a metabolic malfunction due to incorrect information transfer of insulin concentration in the blood to the internal fluid of cells (the cytosol). This information transfer occurs through a complicated network of protein-protein interactions. The skeleton of the network has been characterized, but systems details, including the relative importance and time-scales of the interactions, were previously unknown.

Due to the complexity of the network, it has proved difficult to achieve such a systems understanding through mere experimental techniques and reasoning. Therefore, the team experimentally collected time-series data from human fat cells in vitro and evaluated various mechanistic explanations by translating the explanations into corresponding mathematical models.

In this study, the modeling indicated that either receptor recycling between the membrane and the cytosol, or feedback from proteins activated further down in the network, are involved in the information transfer during the first minutes after insulin stimulation.

As more detailed data become available, the authors predict that mathematical modeling will become an increasingly important tool for data analysis, and for furthering understanding of insulin signaling and cellular control.

Source: Public Library of Science www.ploscompbiol.org/doi/pcbi.1000096

Explore further: Researchers solve mystery of how AkT 'moves' from cytosol to cell membrane

Related Stories

Heartbeat on a chip could improve pharmaceutical tests

June 17, 2015

A gravity-powered chip that can mimic a human heartbeat outside the body could advance pharmaceutical testing and open new possibilities in cell culture because it can mimic fundamental physical rhythms, according to the ...

Japan scientists make see-through mice

November 6, 2014

Researchers at the RIKEN Quantitative Biology Center in Japan, together with collaborators from the University of Tokyo, have developed a method that combines tissue decolorization and light-sheet fluorescent microscopy to ...

Recommended for you

Clues from ancient Maya reveal lasting impact on environment

September 3, 2015

Evidence from the tropical lowlands of Central America reveals how Maya activity more than 2,000 years ago not only contributed to the decline of their environment but continues to influence today's environmental conditions, ...

How to curb emissions? Put a price on carbon

September 3, 2015

Literally putting a price on carbon pollution and other greenhouse gasses is the best approach for nurturing the rapid growth of renewable energy and reducing emissions.

Fighting explosives pollution with plants

September 3, 2015

Biologists at the University of York have taken an important step in making it possible to clean millions of hectares of land contaminated by explosives.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.