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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Computational modelling of the regulation of Insulin signalling by oxidative stress

Graham R Smith and Daryl P Shanley*

Author Affiliations

Centre for Integrated Systems Biology of Ageing & Nutrition (CISBAN), Institute for Ageing and Health, Newcastle University, Campus for Ageing and Vitality, Newcastle upon Tyne NE4 5PL, UK

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BMC Systems Biology 2013, 7:41  doi:10.1186/1752-0509-7-41

Published: 24 May 2013

Abstract

Background

Existing models of insulin signalling focus on short term dynamics, rather than the longer term dynamics necessary to understand many physiologically relevant behaviours. We have developed a model of insulin signalling in rodent adipocytes that includes both transcriptional feedback through the Forkhead box type O (FOXO) transcription factor, and interaction with oxidative stress, in addition to the core pathway. In the model Reactive Oxygen Species are both generated endogenously and can be applied externally. They regulate signalling though inhibition of phosphatases and induction of the activity of Stress Activated Protein Kinases, which themselves modulate feedbacks to insulin signalling and FOXO.

Results

Insulin and oxidative stress combined produce a lower degree of activation of insulin signalling than insulin alone. Fasting (nutrient withdrawal) and weak oxidative stress upregulate antioxidant defences while stronger oxidative stress leads to a short term activation of insulin signalling but if prolonged can have other effects including degradation of the insulin receptor substrate (IRS1) and FOXO. At high insulin the protective effect of moderate oxidative stress may disappear.

Conclusion

Our model is consistent with a wide range of experimental data, some of which is difficult to explain. Oxidative stress can have effects that are both up- and down-regulatory on insulin signalling. Our model therefore shows the complexity of the interaction between the two pathways and highlights the need for such integrated computational models to give insight into the dysregulation of insulin signalling along with more data at the individual level.

A complete SBML model file can be downloaded from BIOMODELS (https://www.ebi.ac.uk/biomodels-main webcite) with unique identifier MODEL1212210000.

Other files and scripts are available as additional files with this journal article and can be downloaded from https://github.com/graham1034/Smith2012_insulin_signalling webcite.

Keywords:
Insulin signalling; FOXO; Oxidative stress; Kinetic computational modelling