Phosphoinositide 3-kinase: the key switch mechanism in insulin signalling

Biochem J. 1998 Aug 1;333 ( Pt 3)(Pt 3):471-90. doi: 10.1042/bj3330471.


Insulin plays a key role in regulating a wide range of cellular processes. However, until recently little was known about the signalling pathways that are involved in linking the insulin receptor with downstream responses. It is now apparent that the activation of class 1a phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI 3-kinase) is necessary and in some cases sufficient to elicit many of insulin's effects on glucose and lipid metabolism. The lipid products of PI 3-kinase act as both membrane anchors and allosteric regulators, serving to localize and activate downstream enzymes and their protein substrates. One of the major ways these lipid products of PI 3-kinase act in insulin signalling is by binding to pleckstrin homology (PH) domains of phosphoinositide-dependent protein kinase (PDK) and protein kinase B (PKB) and in the process regulating the phosphorylation of PKB by PDK. Using mechanisms such as this, PI 3-kinase is able to act as a molecular switch to regulate the activity of serine/threonine-specific kinase cascades important in mediating insulin's effects on endpoint responses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Insulin / physiology*
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • Insulin
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases