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J Biol Chem. 1991 Oct 15;266(29):19288-95.

Insulin and insulin-like growth factor-1 binding specificity is determined by distinct regions of their cognate receptors.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Biology, Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie, Martinsried, Germany.


Chimeric insulin/insulin-like growth factor-1 receptors and insulin receptor alpha-subunit point mutants were characterized with respect to their binding properties for insulin and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) and their ability to translate ligand interaction into tyrosine kinase activation in intact cells. We found that replacement of the amino-terminal 137 amino acids of the insulin receptor (IR) with the corresponding 131 amino acids of the IGF-1 receptor (IGF-1R) resulted in loss of affinity for both ligands. Further replacement of the adjacent cysteine region with IGF-1R sequences fully reconstituted affinity for IGF-1, but only marginally for insulin. Unexpectedly, replacement of the IR cysteine-rich domain alone by IGF-1R sequences created a high affinity receptor for both insulin and IGF-1. The binding characteristics of all receptor chimeras reflected the potential of both ligands to regulate the receptor tyrosine kinase activity in intact cells. Our chimeric receptor data, in conjunction with IR amino-terminal domain point mutants, strongly suggest major contributions of structural determinants in both amino- and carboxyl-terminal IR alpha-subunit regions for the formation of the insulin-binding pocket, whereas, surprisingly, the residues defining IGF-1 binding are present predominantly in the cysteine-rich domain of the IGF-1R.

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