The insulin signaling pathway, together with immediately adjacent or overlapping signaling pathways, is critical for sugar metabolism and cell proliferation. Some of the key proteins in this pathway-phosphoinositide 3 kinase (PI3K), phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN), and protein kinase B (PKB, known as AKT, a serine kinase)-are among the topranked proteins in the human protein network. However, there is a delicate balance among the activities of these key proteins in the cell. Gene mutations that significantly increase PI3K or AKT activity or significantly reduce the activity of PTEN in humans can cause tumors or overgrowth. Most studies of the insulin pathway have focused on animals and humans, but the pathway has also been detected and found to be functional in plants. The insulin signaling pathway is known to regulate cell growth in both animals and plants. Key members of the pathway are targets for drug development for human health and for genetic improvement of plants.

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Department of Biology

Li, X.-Q. (Xiu-Qing), & Xing, T. (2016). Insulin signaling pathways in humans and plants. In Somatic Genome Variation in Animals, Plants, and Microorganisms (pp. 291–298). doi:10.1002/9781118647110.ch12