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J Biol Chem. 1990 Oct 25;265(30):18673-81.

Substructural analysis of the insulin receptor by microsequence analyses of limited tryptic fragments isolated by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis in the absence or presence of dithiothreitol.

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  • 1Beckman Research Institute of the City of Hope, Department of Molecular Genetics, Duarte, California.


Human placental insulin receptor contains 47 Cys per an alpha beta dimer. Most of the 94 Cys in an intact alpha 2 beta 2 receptor are expected to form interchain or intrachain disulfide bonds, since there appears to be only one free cysteine residue in each beta subunit. In order to gain more insight into the three-dimensional organization of the insulin receptor, we have used limited trypsin digestion, SDS-PAGE, and protein microsequencing. The present study revealed the following; major tryptic cleavages occurred at alpha 164, alpha 270, alpha 582, and beta 1115, generating Mr 175,000, 130,000, 100,000, 70,000, and 55,000 disulfide-linked complexes. Under reducing conditions, tryptic fragments of Mr values = 30,000, 70,000, 20,000, 55,000, and 20,000 were identified to be alpha(1-164), alpha(165-582), alpha(165-270), alpha(271-582), and alpha(583-C-terminal), respectively. The major beta subunit tryptic fragment of Mr = 55,000 was assumed to have beta(724-1115) or beta(N-terminal-392). The Mr 175,000 complex appeared to contain two alpha(1-164) and two alpha(165-582), whereas the Mr 70,000 complex contained alpha(583-C-terminal) and beta(724-1115). Tryptic cleavage at alpha 582 apparently produced one Mr 175,000 and two Mr 70,000 complexes, suggesting that the alpha(583-C-terminal) domain interacts with the extracellular domain of the beta subunit by disulfide bonds. Tryptic cleavage at alpha 270 resulting in a formation of one Mr 100,000 complex consisting of two alpha(1-270) and two Mr 130,000 complexes consisting of alpha(271-C-terminal) and beta(724-1115) suggests that Cys residues involved with disulfide bonds between the two alpha subunits are located in the alpha(1-270) domain. The identification of the Mr 55,000 complex consisting of small tryptic fragments between alpha(122-270) indicates that 40 Cys residues in the two alpha(122-270) domains are inter- and intramolecularly associated by disulfide bonds. The alpha(1-121) domain does not appear to be linked to any other domains by disulfide bonds. These results are consistent with the structural model that the N-terminal domains of alpha subunits (122-270) are disulfide-linked together while the C-terminal domain (583-C-terminal) of the alpha subunit is linked to the N-terminal domain of the beta subunit by disulfide bonds.

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