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Endocrinology. 2013 Mar;154(3):1215-24. doi: 10.1210/en.2012-1992. Epub 2013 Feb 13.

The pro-forms of insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) are predominant in skeletal muscle and alter IGF-I receptor activation.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, School of Dental Medicine, and Pennsylvania Muscle Institute, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


IGF-I is a key regulator of muscle development and growth. The pre-pro-peptide produced by the Igf1gene undergoes several posttranslational processing steps to result in a secreted mature protein, which is thought to be the obligate ligand for the IGF-I receptor (IGF-IR). The goals of this study were to determine what forms of IGF-I exist in skeletal muscle, and whether the mature IGF-I protein was the only form able to activate the IGF-IR. We measured the proportion of IGF-I species in murine skeletal muscle and found that the predominant forms were nonglycosylated pro-IGF-I and glycosylated pro-IGF-I, which retained the C-terminal E peptide extension, instead of mature IGF-I. These forms were validated using samples subjected to viral expression of IGF-I combined with furin and glycosidase digestion. To determine whether the larger molecular weight IGF-I forms were also ligands for the IGF-IR, we generated each specific form through transient transfection of 3T3 cells and used the enriched media to perform kinase receptor activation assays. Compared with mature IGF-I, nonglycosylated pro-IGF-I had similar ability to activate the IGF-IR, whereas glycosylation of pro-IGF-I significantly reduced receptor activation. Thus, it is important to understand not only the quantity, but also the proportion of IGF-I forms produced, to evaluate the true biological activity of this growth factor.

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