We present a method for logical analysis of signal-transduction networks, focusing on metabolic and mitogenic signalling by the insulin receptor, with specific emphasis on dependence of the signalling properties on the timing of binding events. We discuss a basic model which demonstrates this dependence (hormone binding leads to activation of the receptor which can lead to a commitment to mitogenic signalling), and show how residence time of the hormone on the receptor can determine the specificity of signalling between the alternative metabolic or mitogenic pathways. The method gives conditions for the selection of specific branches in the signalling pathway expressed in terms of inequalities among the characteristic activation or deactivation times of components of that pathway. In this way, the conditions for mitogenic signalling can be given in terms of a required range of values of the hormone residence time on the receptor, which is directly related to the kinetic dissociation rate.

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