The insulin transduction pathway is a biochemical pathway by which insulin increases the uptake of glucose into fat and muscle cells and reduces the synthesis of glucose in the liver and hence is involved in maintaining glucose homeostasis. This pathway is also influenced by fed versus fasting states, stress levels, and a variety of other hormones.
When carbohydrates are consumed, digested, and absorbed the pancreas senses the subsequent rise in blood glucose concentration and releases insulin to promote uptake of glucose from the bloodstream. When insulin binds to the insulin receptor, it leads to a cascade of cellular processes that promote the usage or, in some cases, the storage of glucose in the cell. The effects of insulin vary depending on the tissue involved, e.g., insulin is most important in the uptake of glucose by muscle and adipose tissue.
This insulin signal transduction pathway is composed of trigger mechanisms (e.g., autophosphorylation mechanisms) that serve as signals throughout the cell. There is also a counter mechanism in the body to stop the secretion of insulin beyond a certain limit. Namely, those counter-regulatory mechanisms are glucagon and epinephrine. The process of the regulation of blood glucose (also known as glucose homeostasis) also exhibits oscillatory behavior.
The functioning of a signal transduction pathway is based on extra-cellular signaling that in turn creates a response that causes other subsequent responses, hence creating a chain reaction, or cascade. During the course of signaling, the cell uses each response for accomplishing some kind of a purpose along the way. Insulin secretion mechanism is a common example of signal transduction pathway mechanism.
Insulin is produced by the pancreas in a region called Islets of Langerhans. In the islets of Langerhans, there are beta-cells, which are responsible for production and storage of insulin. Insulin is secreted as a response mechanism for counteracting the increasing excess amounts of glucose in the blood.
Glucose in the body increases after food consumption. This is primarily due to carbohydrate intake, but to a much lesser degree protein intake ()(). Depending on the tissue type, the glucose enters the cell through facilitated diffusion or active transport. In muscle and adipose tissue, glucose enters through GLUT 4 receptors via facilitated diffusion (). In brain, retina, kidney, RBC, placenta and many other organs, glucose enters using GLUT 1 and GLUT 3. In the beta-cells of the pancreas and in liver cells, glucose enters through the GLUT 2 receptors  (process described below).
Insulin biosynthesis is regulated by transcriptional and translational levels. The β-cells promote their protein transcription in response to nutrients. The exposure of rat Langerhans islets to glucose for 1 hour is able to remarkably induce the intracellular proinsulin levels. It was noted that the proinsulin mRNA remained stable. This suggests that the acute response to glucose of the insulin synthesis is independent of mRNA synthesis in the first 45 minutes because the blockage of the transcription decelerated the insulin accumulation during that time. PTBPs, also called Polypyrimidine tract binding proteins, are proteins that regulate the translation of mRNA. They increase the viability of mRNA and provoke the initiation of the translation. PTBP1 enable the insulin gene-specific activation and insulin granule protein mRNA by glucose.
Two aspects of the transduction pathway process are explained below: insulin secretion and insulin action on the cell.