Evolution of Insulin and Insulin Receptors

  • Derek LeRoith
  • William L. LoweJr.
  • Charles T. RobertsJr.


Insulin traditionally has been considered to be a unique product of the vertebrate pancreas. More recent studies, however, have suggested that there may be extrapancreatic sources of insulin and that insulin may act on tissues other than its classic target tissues. Of specific interest to us has been the suggestion that nervous tissue may be an extrapancreatic source of insulin synthesis and, furthermore, that nervous tissue may be a specific target for insulin. To pursue these questions, we and others have chosen a phylogenetic approach in our studies. In this review we will first discuss the evolutionary origins of insulin-related molecules including their presence in non-vertebrate species. These findings strongly suggest that insulin or a related molecule can be produced by tissues other than a pancreas. In the second part, we will describe studies on the phylogenetic conservation of the brain insulin receptor. Finally, we discuss the phylogenetic and developmental conservation of the structurally unique brain insulin receptor.


Insulin Receptor Insulin Analogue Phylogenetic Conservation Human Insulin Receptor Terminal Sialic Acid Residue 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Derek LeRoith
    • 1
  • William L. LoweJr.
    • 1
  • Charles T. RobertsJr.
    • 1
  1. 1.Section of Molecular and Cellular Physiology Diabetes Branch, National Institutes of HealthNIDDKBethesdaUSA

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