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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1993 Jan 15;90(2):582-6.

Paradoxical structure and function in a mutant human insulin associated with diabetes mellitus.

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  • 1Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115.


The solution structure of a diabetes-associated mutant human insulin (insulin Los Angeles; PheB24-->Ser) was determined by 13C-edited NMR spectroscopy and distance-geometry/simulated annealing calculations. Among vertebrate insulins PheB24 is invariant, and in crystal structures the aromatic ring appears to anchor the putative receptor-binding surface through long-range packing interactions in the hydrophobic core. B24 substitutions are of particular interest in relation to the mechanism of receptor binding. In one analogue ([GlyB24]insulin), partial unfolding of the B chain has been observed with paradoxical retention of near-native bioactivity. The present study of [SerB24]insulin extends this observation: relative to [GlyB24]insulin, near-native structure is restored despite significant loss of function. To our knowledge, our results provide the first structural study of a diabetes-associated mutant insulin and support the hypothesis that insulin undergoes a change in conformation on receptor binding.

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