Endocrinology and Metabolism

Signal integration at the level of ion channel and exocytotic function in pancreatic β-cells

Patrick E. MacDonald


Whole body energy balance is ensured by the exquisite control of insulin secretion, the dysregulation of which has serious consequences. Although a great deal has been learned about the control of insulin secretion from pancreatic β-cells in the past 30 years, there remains much to be understood about the molecular mechanisms and interactions that underlie the precise control of this process. Numerous molecular interactions at the plasma membrane mediate the excitatory and amplifying events involved in insulin secretion; this includes interactions between ion channels, signal transduction machinery, and exocytotic proteins. The present Perspectives article considers evidence that key membrane and membrane-associated proteins essential to insulin secretion are regulated in concert as a functional unit, ensuring an integrated excitatory and exocytotic response to the signals that control insulin secretion.

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